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Fire destroys church's children's center

Blaze on Westside United Methodist Church campus likely result of accidental cause.


SUBMITTED PHOTO - Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue firefighters work to contain a fire to the Children's Ministry building at Westside United Methodist Church on Monday morning.Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue investigators said a fire that destroyed the Children's Ministry building at Westside United Methodist Church in Beaverton on the morning of Monday, May 4, appears to have been accidental.

Investigators used burn patterns and material evidence to determine that the blaze likely started in the ceiling of the building; the damage resulted a total loss valued at about $150,000.

TVF&R firefighters responded to the fire after a 9-1-1 call at 3:17 a.m. from a driver who passed the church at 13420 S.W. Butner Road and spotted an orange glow and black smoke coming from the small building on the church campus. Other people also called from adjacent apartments, fearful that the fire would reach their building.

TVF&R reported that the fire was difficult to fight because it was fully involved by the time firefighters got to the scene, in part because there was no commercial fire alarm or fire sprinkler system in the building. In addition, a one-ton heating and air conditioning unit that was on the roof fell through to the floor as trusses were weakened by the fire; that in turn severed a natural gas line which further fed the flames.

Firefighters were able to keep the fire confined to the Children's Ministry building, but intense heat broke out two windows in the main church, allowing smoke to enter.

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