A former church in Bathurst was destroyed by fire on Thursday.

Fire crews were called to the old St. Theresa Child of Jesus Catholic Church, located off St. Theresa Crescent, at about 11:30 a.m.

The building, which was most recently used for rented storage, was already fully engulfed by the time firefighters arrived, said Bathurst Deputy Fire Chief Donald Laffoley.

"It was a storage facility, so it's just loaded with pretty much everything," he said.

Area residents gathered around to watch, as the structure, built in the 1960s, went up in flames.

Former St. Theresa Child of Jesus Catholic Church on fire in Bathurst

The former St. Theresa Child of Jesus Catholic Church in Bathurst was ablaze on Thursday. (Bridget Yard/CBC)

Many of the bystanders were christened or married in the old church before it was sold by the diocese.

Derek Roy said it was the biggest fire he had ever seen in the northern New Brunswick city.

"I was just driving by, I saw the smoke from town and just stopped to take a look basically and see what was going on," he said.

It took crews several hours to get the fire under control. It was extinguished by about 3:30 p.m.

"Based on some information I received firsthand, we believe it to be an accidental fire," the deputy chief said.

"There were some people working in the building and we believe that is probably the cause but we haven't started our investigation yet," said Laffoley.

Fire officials remained at the scene late into the afternoon, cleaning up the site.

Laffoley says some items in the basement may be salvaged.

No injuries have been reported.