Firefighters battle two-alarm church fire

HOUSTON For 45 minutes, flames raced through the Blessed Hope Missionary Baptist Church on Colvin Road near Wallisville. For Pastor Kendall White, it was like watching his life flash before his very eyes. All he could think about was his congregation, some 200 members strong.

"This is pretty much a family church that was started over 60 years ago, a lot of history, a lot of family," he said. "So it's going to have an impact not only here, but throughout this community and this city."

Firefighters had quite a fight on their hands. As the blaze went to two alarms, the scope of the damage would be tremendous. The fellowship hall, the kitchen and the financial offices all went up in flames.

"Thank God no lives were taken," Pastor White said. "Remembering that it started somewhere and it can start again."

While the sanctuary itself suffered water damage, it was virtually untouched by the flames. Fortunately, firefighters were able to save it. Elijah Valery, who's been a parishioner here for 27 years, takes it as a sign.

He said, "I'm feeling that God is trying to tell us something. But I thank God that the sanctuary is saved. We can still go ahead and have services that we usually do."

The church was supposed to host a Bible study Wednesday evening but planned to move the group underneath a nearby tree.

No injuries were reported. Houston Fire Department arson investigators and agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are investigating. The cause of the blaze has not been determined.

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