Fire rips through Texas City church

September 11, 2009 10:10:00 AM PDT
We're following the latest developments in a huge fire which destroyed a church in Texas City. Church members could only stand and watch it burn. The fire started around 8:30pm Thursday at St. John's United Methodist Church on 16th Avenue. Crews were on the scene early this morning, putting out hot spots.

Daybreak revealed grey sky where the building used to stand. But not any building -- St. John's United Methodist Church, which was much more than a place of worship for church member Mary Ellen Grove.

"Our children were raised here, married in this church," she said. "We've been members since 1972 or 73."

But the church is even older than that, recently celebrating 50 years in Texas City.

Thursday night, close to 10 fire departments and 100 firefighters fought the flames at St. John's, pouring water on hot spots until early Friday morning. Only a few members were inside when the fire started. They quickly escaped without getting hurt.

A steady stream of church members came by Friday to see what was left.

"I've already had two calls, one from Kansas, one from Dallas, saying 'Mom, what happened to the church'," said Grove.

"I found out that I had cancer and I came here and started praying," said church member Matt Lord. "A week later, I found out that it's operable and they're going to be able to take care of it. Peace and serenity, really, it offered me peace of mind and security in my soul."

Lord said the power of community is here in a unique way and despite the loss, he's confident that will remain.

"It'll be back. They'll rebuild," he said. "I don't have any doubt in my mind God's going to make that happen."

The fire marshal is handling the investigation. There's talk among church members that this was an electrical fire, but it's still under investigation.

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