Port Arthur pastor asking for prayers after church fire

Published 12:38 am Saturday, April 8, 2023

Instead of preparing his church for Easter services, Rev. Kelvin Solco was busy Friday securing the building after a fire broke out in the early morning hours.

Fortunately, the church building is in three sections: the front sanctuary, the middle fellowship hall and the back offices. The fire was in the attic area at the front of the fellowship hall.

By midday Friday, Solco and volunteers from Victory Christian Church were working at the church located at 5101 6th St.

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“We are working as hard as we can to at least secure the facility and then make a decision on Easter services — go or no go,” Solco said.

Port Arthur Fire Chief Greg Benson said a lightning strike could have caused the fire.

Authorities received a call of smoke coming from the church at 5:04 a.m. Friday.

Benson said firefighters were able to extinguish the fire, which was mostly contained to the attic.

“It may have been the result of lightning, but that is to be determined,” Benson said.

The extent of the damage was unknown at 11 a.m. Friday. The fire chief said there would be some holes in the ceiling, where firefighters had to pull down to get to the attic space. The church will later need to be accessed for structural integrity.

There were no reported injuries.

Solco said he is glad the fire happened around 5 a.m. so no one was at the church, no one was injured and there was no impact to the neighborhood.

“I’m grateful that if it had to happen, people are safe,” he said.

The pastor is disappointed but also optimistic about getting the church back up and running.

Solco’s father, Rev. Norman Solco, founded Victory Christian Church 38 years ago. Kelvin Solco served as interim pastor in 2018, and after his father’s death was named permanent pastor.

For now Solco is relying on church volunteers for help. He said he has lumber left over from other projects but they will still need to pay an electrician in the future.

“We are asking for prayers for anyone who wants to pray for us,” he said. “And donations wouldn’t hurt.”

The Good Friday fire is not as extensive as the one that occurred in January at End Time Deliverance Holiness Church, 3000 block of 19th Street. The fire gutted the two-story structure. PAFD responded with eight units and approximately 26 people.