MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis Fire Department is investigating after a funeral home went up in flames an hour before a scheduled service for a 39-year-old woman.
Fire officials on scene told WREG the fire at the Forest Hill Funeral Home and Memorial Park may have been sparked by lightning from Saturday morning's severe storms, but the cause is still under investigation.
Relatives of Crystal Hudson, whose funeral was set to take place at 10 a.m., said they showed up around 8:45 a.m. and saw flames shooting from the building.
"They got her body out, but everything else was burned," said Hudson's brother, Matt Griffin.
Heavy smoke created a thick haze in the sky that could be seen for miles.
"It must have been pretty rough because they brought a second and third engine up about 30 minutes after I got here," said Hudson's uncle, Dwayne Young. "My girlfriend actually got here first before anybody right about the time it happened, and what else do you think? I mean first of all, what are the odds of this happening and getting her out? That’s all that mattered."
Young said Hudson died Monday from complications from pneumonia after a long battle with the illness.
"It’s hard," he said. "That’s one of those unexpected, out of nowhere."
Young said Hudson, of Horn Lake, Miss., leaves behind a husband, three sons, and two stepdaughters.
"They said they couldn’t save her pictures or anything, but all that really doesn’t matter," Young said. "The main thing is that they got her out."
He said family traveled from as far away as Alabama for Saturday's service.
The funeral was rescheduled for Sunday at noon in Horn Lake, according to social media posts from family members.
"My sister and her mother got here, pulled up, and she said, 'I’ve been praying all morning the lord don’t make me put her in the ground in this storm.' And I said, 'Well, I guess he listened because it ain’t happening today,'" Young said.
Investigators with the Memphis Fire Department haven't said yet whether there were other bodies in the building when it caught on fire.