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Church becomes a refuge in California’s devastating fire

California fire in August 2018 Credit: Forest Service. USDA/Public Domain

California fire in August 2018 Credit: Forest Service. USDA/Public Domain

The Baptist Press reports a remarkable story in midst of the catastrophic fires sweeping California. The fire, that started November 6, 2018, has resulted in the deaths of 42 people and the destruction of 7,000 buildings as of November 13. This makes it the deadliest fires in California’s history.

The story involves the preservation of a church in the town of Magalia, a small town of 12,000 people, in Northern California, that became a refuge for 30 people. On November 9, with the fire sweeping down on the town, Doug Crowder, who pastors Magalia Pines Baptist Church, was with 30 residents of the community, including 4 members of the Church planning to evacuate the town.

Though most of the town residents had already left, Crowder stayed behind to help those who were unable to flee on their own, including the homeless, elderly and disabled.

As they were loading into their vehicles, the forest surrounding the town dramatically burst into flames. A small restaurant across the street also exploded and suddenly they were surrounded by fire.

With no way of escape, the group ran to the Baptist church where they had previously taken shelter. Inside they prayed for God’s protection.

Throughout the night, they heard propane tanks exploding in a hardware store across the street. They watched the flaming leaping horizontally between the buildings.

But miraculously the church was spared.

The next morning when they went outside, Magalia was gone. The church was one of only a handful of buildings still standing in the smoldering ruins. According to the pastor, the trees on the church property still had their fall leaves.

Having survived the flame, the church building continued to service the community and became the home base for firefighters battling the blaze.

I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!” (Psalm 91:2 NASV)


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