• Pastor vows Homewood church damaged in blaze will recover


    HOMEWOOD, Pa. - A two-alarm fire Monday night damaged the New Grace Missionary Baptist Church in Homewood.

    Firefighters were called about 8:30 p.m. for a report of flames in the two-story brick building in the 7700 block of Tioga Street. The fire was declared under control about 30 minutes later.

    The majority of the damage was reported in the upstairs offices, including the pastor’s. The sanctuary wasn’t damaged except for minor smoke and water.

    “I had about 10 robes that all burned up. Pictures from my kids when they were young -- everything is gone,” Rev. Aaron Watt said. “I shed a tear or two.”

    Watt told Channel 11 News that the blaze isn’t going to stop what they do. He said their members will still continue serving breakfast to the community -- only they’ll have to do it outside because the kitchen was also damaged.

    “We’re still moving on, we have to. There are people that need it, so we have to be here on the battlefield, that’s all we can do,” Watt said.

    The cause of the fire, which caused an estimated $20,000 in damage, remains under investigation.

    "Even though this may seem like a tragedy -- they know it will eventually be a triumph.  I know that.  They know that.  They have hope.  I have hope and now the community has hope,” Watt said.

    Watt said he and his parish will remain positive through their faith.

    "We look at things like this and say, ‘Wow, I'm sorry,’” Watt said. “But God can turn this whole thing around and we'll never understand it or which way it was supposed to go, but it was in his plan."

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