Potrero, CA – Leaders of Potrero’s oldest church have decided to rebuild after a fire last month, but they haven’t figured how much it will cost or how to pay for it.
The first floor of Potrero Community Church was gutted March 12, and the damage was estimated at $250,000.
Dick Miller, 80, an elder of the 40-member congregation, said he’s confident that God will take care of whatever is needed.
It seems to me that when something like this happens, the Lord will provide, Miller said. He always has.
Miller was among several church leaders who met earlier this month with a construction engineer. They were advised that rebuilding is feasible, he said.
The outcome is we can build the bottom level right back, Miller said. We’ll have to get a permit from the county to do the work, and we need to rebuild a central supporting wall that was knocked down by the explosion (when the fire started).
Cal Fire investigators said the blaze was started accidentally when a heater ignited liquid propane leaking from pipes in the church’s lower level.
The explosion blew out several windows, and the fire destroyed the first floor and caused smoke damage to the second floor, authorities said.
No one was injured.
Since the fire, we’ve been in there scrubbing and we’ve cleared out all of the burned furniture, Miller said.
A history book on Potrero doesn’t give the date when the church was finished, but it says members of the congregation began building it in the early 1950s on land donated by Roy Wilson on a small hill by an old oak.
The church today stands near a roughly 60-foot-tall oak at state Route 94 and Harris Ranch Road.
This was a joint effort by nearly all the men (in the congregation), and they would gather each Saturday morning and work all day, according to Potrero Roots: a Back Country Heritage.
The women would come with food at noon which was served on a picnic table under the shade of the old oak tree, Shirley Bowman Reider wrote.
The church’s first pastor, David Whitcomb, preached there for six years, the book says.
Today, the church is led by pastor Esequiel Serrato, who delivers Sunday sermons at the Potrero Community Center on Potrero Valley Road, about two miles north of state Route 94.