Plumes of smoke poured out of two Riverbank businesses along Highway 108 Wednesday morning.
A clothing store and a liquor store were both gutted by an intense fire. Right behind the stores on Third Street is the Vineyard of Grace and Mercy Church.
The fire broke out around 8:30 a.m. and was so intense, 60 firefighters from nine different agencies were called in to help.
When Pastor Terry Hopkins heard about the fire. He rushed to the scene to see if his church was still standing.
He watched as the fire destroyed everything in its path except his church.
“Everything around the perimeter of the church is destroyed. And they said every time the fire would come up, it would just hover over the church but not burn,” said Hopkins.
The church only sustained smoke damage and flooding from water used to fight the flames.
“To come over the hill and see the building was still standing, it affirmed in me that The Lord still believes we have work to do in this city,” said Hopkins.
As for the cause of the fire, a specially trained arson dog that was able to sniff out excellerants was brought out.
“Our investigator made that determination and it was his determination to use the dog. It’s a resource that just in this last year and year and a half we’ve had,” said Stanislaus Consolidated Protection District’s Battalion Chief, Kevin Wise.
No one was injured in the fire.