3-Alarm Fire Causes $1.5M Damage to Church

BAYTOWN, Texas --

Firefighters battled a three-alarm church fire in Baytown on Monday.

The fire at Living Hope Church on state Highway 146 near Interstate 10 broke out about 3:40 a.m.

According to the church's pastor, Kevin Kleinhenz, the fire was started in a utility closet or classroom. Baytown firefighters said there may have been multiple points of origin.

Kleinhenz said a teenager vandalized the church on Friday by marking it with graffiti and breaking windows and doors. He also stole a guitar and drum equipment, the pastor said.

The incident vandalism and theft was captured by surveillance cameras, but that evidence was destroyed in the fire, Kleinhenz said.

"Nobody ever wants anything like this to ever happen," Kleinhenz said. "When it does happen, you just be grateful that you have an opportunity to start again and you have an opportunity to go forward. Can't go backwards."

Kleinhenz said the fire caused about $1.5 million worth of damage.

The church has worshiped in that location since 2005 after a 2003 fire burned its original church. Services were held at a YMCA for the two years the church was without a building.

Forty-one firefighters battled the fire. Two were treated for heat exhaustion.

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