Church pastor relieved building saved from wildfire

Fire reaches dangerously close to church

HERNANDO CO. Fla - A Hernando Beach pastor credits firefighters, but mostly God for sparing his church building from being destroyed in a brush fire that burned some 1,200 acres.

As of Monday afternoon crews contained 90 percent of the fire that spread through the Weekie Wachee Preserve. Crews believe lightning most likely sparked the fire.

RELATED: Lightning caused massive brush fire in Hernando

Pastor Mark Walton of the First Baptist Church Hernando Beach got a call early Sunday morning letting him know that the fire was headed closer to his church.

He received pictures that showed the flames just 20 yards from the building.

"We're very blessed," he said, "and we're very grateful and we believe the hand of God is on the church and the church is standing strong."

Walton had to cancel Palm Sunday services, but expects to be back in the building for Easter Sunday.

"God can turn ashes into beauty," he said.

This isn't the first time the church is spared.

Walton says another brush fire got even closer to the building a few years ago.

"A little scared," he said of the experience this time around, "because you can realize how fragile everything is, it wouldn't take much for it to shift and if it had tall the buildings would have gone up."

Fire crews say the area along Hernando Beach will remain smoky for the next few days. 

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