A GOVAN church was forced to close on Christmas Day after a blaze near the altar filled the building with smoke.

Firefighters rushed to St Anthony's on Langlands Road on Christmas morning after a fire in front of the pews was discovered by a church member.

It is unknown how long the flames, which were concentrated around candles at the front of church, had been burning.

Church officials say nobody had been in the church between midnight mass on Christmas Eve and preparations on Christmas morning.

Luckily, the fire was discovered quickly and the building itself suffered only minor damage, with no injuries occurring.

But the church's altar was damaged, with the full extent of this still unknown.

Mass on Christmas Day was moved elsewhere as a result, taking place at St Francis Nursing Home just under a mile away.

Services have also been taking place in the church's side chapel in the meantime.

However, a strong smell of smoke remained on Thursday, with teams of volunteers working to clear the main chapel of debris and clean the scorch marks from the floor.

The church's priest, Reverend Peter Dowling, said: "There were candles burning there and a fire there in the morning.

"There had been nobody in from Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve until the morning so it impacted our morning service. We had to have mass elsewhere because of the smoke.

"Called the fire service and they are investigating what caused it, but we don't think it was malicious.

"Volunteers have been in and it looks much better, but it has to be ready for Friday and we’ll be fully up and running for Sunday."

Fire crews were called to the scene in Govan at around 10.20am on Christmas morning.

It is still unknown what prevented the wide spread of the fire within the chapel, with wooden pews and flammable tapestries close to the burning candles.

A spokesman for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said: “The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service was alerted at 10.21am on Tuesday, December 25 to reports of a fire within a church in Govan.

“Operations Control mobilised one fire engine to Govan Road’s St Anthony's Church, where crews located a fire within the building’s floor.

“Firefighters extinguished the fire and ensured the area was made safe before leaving the scene.

“There were no casualties.”