December 30, 2008 Spokane, Washington, United States…Megan Brauner/ANN

Fire damaged a majority of a local Seventh-day Adventist Church administrative building in Spokane, Washington, United States early Sunday morning. The building housed the Adventist Church's Upper Columbia Conference, which oversees more than 100 churches and 30 schools in Eastern Washington and sections of Idaho and Oregon.

There were no serious injuries or fatalities reported in the fire that ruined roughly two-thirds of the building. The blaze started around 5 a.m. Sunday, spreading from the Adventist Book Center store located in the building to the rest of the facility, according to a press release on the conference Web site. Officials said the cause of the fire has not been determined.

“We are extremely grateful that there was no loss of life or even a serious injury in this tragic fire,” said Max C. Torkelson, conference president.

Torkelsen also said he hopes to rebuild in the same location. According to the press release, the rebuilding process could take 12 to 18 months.

The Upper Columbia office housed the studio for Spokane's Positive Life Radio, 104.9 FM, and He's Alive TV, UHF Ch. 39. Staffers are currently assessing the damage and are working to get the stations back on the air.

The fire also temporarily disrupted phone and Internet services. Officials report main office phone and fax numbers have since been rerouted to an offsite location, while e-mail should be functioning again within the next few days.

The Spokane, Washington office is the second Adventist Church administrative building to burn down this year. The British Union Conference, located in Stanborough Park, Watford, United Kingdom, lost most of its administrative building to a fire in November. Both offices are missing significant amounts of data due to the fires.

Adventist Risk Management, the risk assessment organization for the church, said in a December 30 statement they will be working with church officials to “implement more disaster preparedness and business contingency plans” in the future.

Image by Image by ANN. Fred Hardinge

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