The California Camp Fire (named after Camp Creek, where the blaze began) ravaged Northern California. And when Pastor Doug Crowder shares the story of how one California church survived the deadliest wildfire in the state’s history, there’s no doubt it is a true miracle!
Doug Wood is the pastor of Magalia Pines Baptist Church in Northern California. And as the devastating wildfire raced toward the town of Magalia, he tried to figure out what to do.
About 30 people who’d been able to evacuate took shelter at the church. Alongside them were about four members from Doug’s congregation. The pastor had stayed behind himself to help the elderly, the homeless, and others who couldn’t get out on their own.
But with conditions growing more threatening by the minute, Pastor Doug started loading everyone up into vehicles in an attempt to make a hasty escape.
But then, everything just blew up… literally!
“We were in the driveway planning to leave,” Pastor Doug tearfully recalled, “and the entire world erupted.”
Surrounded By Flames, Church Turns To Prayer
This is what’s made the California Camp Fire so deadly — how quickly it has spread. The high winds have fanned and furiously advanced the flames, giving folks little to no time for evacuation. Where Pastor Doug says there had been no fire in the adjacent businesses or woods, suddenly the blaze surrounded the church.
“The woods exploded,” he said. “The Subway restaurant across the street exploded, and on all sides of us was fire.”
Terrified, the group dashed back inside of the church. They huddled together, praying for protection from the Almighty. An inferno blazed all around them. Blasts shook the earth as propane tanks from the hardware store next door exploded. It must have made for a tense night.
But when Pastor Doug and his flock stepped outside, alive and well, the next day, they found a real-life miracle!
California Church Survived Deadly Wildfire
Walking out of the church, they found the building’s property surrounded by utter destruction. Everything nearby had been leveled by the wildfire. And yet, the safe harbor of the church remained untouched.
“We were totally unscathed — totally,” Pastor Doug marveled. “The fall leaves were still on the trees [on the church’s property].”
Magalia Pines Baptist Church is one of the only buildings left standing in the whole town. It stands as a beacon of hope amongst the scorched wreckage. And Pastor Doug says he and his congregation will use the terrible tragedy as an opportunity to do God’s work.
“It will be years before it’s a town again,” he said. “But all through that, our church will be standing and our church will be ministering.”
We wholeheartedly pray for all suffering the impact of this truly devastating event.
Featured Image Credit: AP Photo/Noah Berger