Ten days away from Christmas Eve, and the church was burning. Josh Hudson barely registered these thoughts before he had a new one: I can put out this fire.
He acted on that idea almost faster than he could think, but first he called 911 and reported seeing a small but growing fire at Cascade Covenant Church.
“It had just started, it wasn’t really burning too big,” Hudson said of the fire, at the church directly across the street from his house.
The 20-year-old North Bend man had just come home on Friday, Dec. 14, when he, his uncle and his girlfriend noticed something wrong at the church. They could hear the fire alarm faintly, he said, but when he saw the flames through a window, he bolted across to the church to see how he could help. His run forced a couple of cars to stop short, he said, but those drivers quickly got out and tried to help, too.
They found a small fire burning in a window, the remains of a candle left burning after an event, Hudson said. He made a frustrating call to 911.
The dispatcher “asked me if I was sure the church was burning,” he said, “and I understand the need not to panic, but the church was on fire… I’m sure they’re more used to getting calls about fire than I am about giving the calls.”
He asked the woman on the phone if he could break a window to put out the fire, but she said to keep everybody at a safe distance.
Hudson, a competitive skateboarder, riding for Boardshop 5420 and Boarders for Christ — he remembers doing a demo at Cascade Covenant a few months back — says he probably has different ideas about safety from most people, though.
“It’s almost Christmas, are we going to sit here and watch a holy place burn?” he thought. Or, if the church had sprinklers, let it get soaked, damaging everything inside?
“I try to choose the best option,” Hudson said, but he didn’t like either of the options in front of him. He ran to his house, filled two buckets with water, and ran back to the church. By then, he said, the inner pane of the double-paned windows had a small hole burned into it.
After a short search of the grounds around the building, he found a rock, hucked it through what was left of the burning window, and began dumping water on the flames. He put out the fire with two buckets of water, and waited for the fire department to arrive.
Since then, Hudson was recognized at the church’s Sunday service for saving the church, and has received the gratitude of, and a few gifts from, its members.
His mother, visiting for the holidays from California, told him “I’m really proud of you. You’ve always done the right thing… and to save a church of all places…”
It was the right thing to do, he agreed. “I just did the neighborly thing and helped put out the fire.”