Massive fire damages Vancouver church

There have been no reported injuries

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) – Crews are investigating a large fire that burned through a church in the Hazel Dell area of Clark County.

The fire was reported around 3 a.m. on Wednesday in the 1200 block of Northeast 68th Street. When crews arrived, they found heavy fire coming from the First Congregational United Church of Christ, according to emergency dispatchers.

No one was injured.

Dispatchers said on-scene fire commanders struck a third-alarm bringing in additional resources in from Clark County and Vancouver Fire. Investigators say the fire started on the exterior of the building and then spread inside. From there, the flames spread, destroying everything inside, including the historic stained glass in the center of the church's iconic, arced roof line.

"It's a unique design," says church member Bret Martin. "I think there are only a few in the Portland metro area like it."

Martin and his wife saw the fire on the news and rushed to the scene. They are heartbroken.

"From what I can tell from here the sanctuary is just gone," he says. "We don't have a sanctuary anymore."

But pastor Jennifer Brownell says the church isn't a building, the church is a people.

"This building and this spot has always been a real rallying point for people," she says. "This has been a beautiful safe sanctuary for many years."


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