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‘Rescue Heroes’ spotlights Vancouver United Church of Christ arson

ABC docu-series looks at resurrected house of worship

By , Columbian Social Services, Demographics, Faith
Published: January 11, 2019, 6:04am
2 Photos
Fire damaged the First Congregational United Church of Christ on Wednesday morning, May 25, 2016 in Hazel Dell. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian)
Fire damaged the First Congregational United Church of Christ on Wednesday morning, May 25, 2016 in Hazel Dell. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Around 3 a.m. May 25, 2016, firefighters rushed to an arson at Vancouver United Church of Christ that nearly destroyed the west steeple of the boat-shaped building and caused millions of dollars in damage. The Hazel Dell church rebuilt and reopened last year.

The first responders’ stories and the story of rebuilding the church are being featured on the Jan. 19 episode of “Rescue Heroes,” a Saturday morning educational docu-series on ABC.

ABC News Chief Meteorologist Ginger Zee teams up with Sheldon Yellen, CEO of BELFOR Property Restoration, a company that helps people rebuild after natural disasters and co-produces the new show, which premiered Jan. 5.

“When disaster strikes, it takes a hero to save the day,” Zee says in a promotional video for the series.

Vancouver United Church of Christ, also known as First Congregational United Church of Christ, is welcoming the public to join them for brunch and a viewing of the show, which airs at 10 a.m. Ken Rowe, spokesman for the church, said the producers did interviews with church members and firefighters and used photos and video footage taken the day of the fire.

The church is settling into its remodeled space, though there is still a bit of work to be done. The church has collected funds to cover costs that weren’t covered by insurance. Rowe said the church is trying to rent some spaces in the church and find groups to make use of its new commercial kitchen. Martha’s Pantry, a food bank, moved back in — this time to a bigger, better space on the church’s ground floor.

“Everyone’s been very excited,” Rowe said.

The congregation is also training to be more equipped in the event of an emergency, whether that’s another fire or a medical emergency. Several church members have medical training.

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