BEAVERTON — A fire last month in a building owned by a local church briefly left another church and ministry outreach newly housed there feeling unsettled — but only briefly.
The blaze early Monday morning, May 4, burned through the children’s ministry building of Westside United Methodist Church, 13420 S.W. Butner Road. The fire broke out around 3 a.m., destroying the whole structure except for its stone walls. Damage to the insured building was estimated at $150,000. Built around the 1960s, the structure had no sprinkler or alarm systems.
A neighbor saw the flames and phoned 911. Firefighters with Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue responded to the blaze and soon gained control of the single-alarm fire.
Based on burn patterns and material evidence, investigators believe the fire was accidental. It started in the ceiling and spread from there. The fire persisted because it was fed by a natural gas line that was likely ruptured when a heating and air conditioning unit collapsed into the building from the roof. A power line also fell.
Because of the building’s cement block construction, the flames didn’t spread to the church’s main building and no one was hurt in the fire. But according to a statement on the church’s web site, had the fire burned for 20 minutes more, the sanctuary would have been lost as well. Two windows in the main building were blown out by the heat.
Another Beaverton church, Restoration Gateway Ministries, had moved very recently to Westside United Methodist and had its offices in the children’s ministry building. It lost all of its books and documents in the blaze.
Hours after the fire, Restoration Gateway Pastor Kay Tolman wrote “with a heavy heart” an e-mail to friends of her church about the incident. She announced that the ministry’s classes, worship services and ministry appointments would be canceled until further notice.
“The good news is that our God is a God of new beginnings,” she was quick to add.
That new beginning was enthusiastically announced three days later with another e-mail from Tolman.
She said classes and appointments would resume immediately, and that worship would take place that Saturday evening as originally scheduled.
“We are so grateful for the outpouring of prayer, love and financial support from God’s people for the rebuilding of Restoration Gateway Ministries,” she wrote.
On its website, Westside United Methodist Church encouraged special donations to Restoration Gateway Ministries through that outreach’s website, freedom4survivors.org