This article has been, and will continue to be, updated as additional information comes in.
Hillside – The Hillside Bible Church has been destroyed by a fire.
According to Forest Grove Fire & Rescue Public Information Officer Matt Johnston, and neighbors on scene at the fire, a call came in about 5:48 from a neighbor who saw smoke and flames coming from the front of the church.
The fire was initially classified as a single alarm fire. Upon arrival, crews called for a second alarm within minutes.
A few moments later, the church collapsed.
“This is heartbreaking,” said one neighbor, watching the smoke and flames as crews attacked the flames. He pulled out his phone and scrolled to when he called 911 – 5:48 p.m.
He noticed the smoke and flames as he turned into his driveway at home, just a few hundred yards from the church.
By the time Gales Creek Journal reporter Chas Hundley was on scene, dozens of local residents and Hillside Bible attendees had gathered across the street, flames still shooting out of the church.
According to neighbors, the church was undergoing some construction. It did not appear that anyone was in the structure when the fire started. Chairman of the Board of the Hillside Bible Church Doug Shearer isn’t sure what the church will do next. Services would have been tomorrow morning, with Sunday school starting at 9:45 and worship services starting at 11 a.m.
“I don’t know where to start,” he said.
He and others plan to be on the site Sunday morning to let congregants who weren’t aware of the fire know what had happened.
Fire crews were hampered by a lack of water – the community of Hillside has no fire hydrants – and crews ran out of water twice before a continuous shuttle was established with water from hydrants on Kansas City Road and in Gales Creek.
Crews had concerns about a 200-300 gallon propane tank located behind the church, but were able to keep flames away from it. Fire crews also could not enter the building, due to a potentially unsafe situation because of the church basement.
During the fire, one Banks Fire District 13 firefighter was injured, suffering second degree burns on their fingers. The firefighter declined to go to the hospital, according to Johnston.
A statement on the Banks Fire District Facebook page said that the injured firefighter was treated on the scene by Metro West Paramedics and released. According to the statement, he is doing well and is in good spirits.
The cause of the fire was not known at the time of this article being published.
Responding agencies included Forest Grove Fire & Rescue from both the Forest Grove and Gales Creek stations, Banks Fire District 13, Gaston Rural Fire District, Cornelius Fire Department, Hillsboro Fire Department, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue out of North Plains, and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office