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Northeast OKC Wildfire Destroys Church

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Blowing embers started a fire at Harrison Bethel Baptist Church in Oklahoma City early Wednesday morning. Blowing embers started a fire at Harrison Bethel Baptist Church in Oklahoma City early Wednesday morning.

LaShauna Sewell,

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A congregation woke early Wednesday morning to the devastating news a wildfire had destroyed their church on N.E. 71st Street near Sooner Road.

The wildfire began Tuesday, August 30, near N.E. 50th Street and Sooner. The heat, extremely dry conditions and wind soon spread the flames across several hundred acres.

Pastor J.R. Moore was studying at Harrison Bethel Baptist Church when the wildfire started. The church, located at 6300 N.E. 71st street, was dangerously close to the fire zone. Pastor Moore and a few members of his congregation stayed at the church for several hours to make sure the building was okay. Firefighters forced them to leave Tuesday afternoon when conditions became too dangerous.

Around 2:15 a.m., blowing embers from the wildfire landed on the roof of the church. A brush pumper noticed the fire and called in help. Several firefighters rushed to the scene, but by the time they arrived the roof was engulfed in flames. Crews did all they could, but they were not able to save the building.

Around 4:45 a.m., Pastor Moore received a call about the fire from a church member. He says as he drove to the church, he hoped the damage wouldn't be too bad. But when he arrived he saw his church was gone.

Harrison Bethel Baptist Church has about 100 members. A sign outside the church reads "God will keep his promise. Trust him." Pastor Moore says the message is true, and he and his congregation will keep their faith.

"Sunday after Sunday I tell others about having faith in Jesus. Now I believe it's my time to practice what I'm preaching, to let God work it out, to let God guide us," said Pastor Moore. "I know that my faith in Him is strong. So, day by day, we'll just trust Him."


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