| Posted: Tuesday, Sep 25, 2012 03:15 pm
Fire investigators were unable to determine the exact cause of the blaze that destroyed the Morinville Baptist Church over the weekend.
The blaze originated in the kitchen of the church, located in the basement, and caused an estimated $1 million in damage.
“We found where it started and that something was sitting on the counter,” said Ken Thiemann, deputy chief of operations with the Morinville Fire Department. “Our suspicion is that a microwave is there, but it’s pretty hard to tell.”
The investigation stated at 3:30 p.m. Sunday and concluded three hours later.
Thiemann said the water used to fight the fire washed away some of the evidence, making it more difficult to determine a definitive cause.
“The insurance company’s going to get their people in there and will take a look to confirm what we found. They may take it further, but we won’t know that until later,” he said.
Bill Wicks, pastor at the church, spent most of the day Saturday on scene watching as firefighters battled the blaze and subsequently tore down the structure.
“It’s sad,” he said. “But the question is what good things we can learn from it and how we can benefit from a loss of a building like we have.”
He was determined to continue preaching to churchgoers and instead moved the Sunday service to the parking lot in front of the demolished church.
“We think of the church as being the people, not the building,” he said.
Wicks said there is no reason why the church wouldn’t rebuild, but said plans will be discussed in the coming days after hearing from the insurance company.
Church elder Howard Killick said a few photo albums, books and a plaque were recovered from the building.
“You don’t want to see something destroyed before your eyes that you’ve spent … several thousand hours building,” he said. “We’re sorry to see it go.”
He said, however, the churchgoers are more important than the church and the congregation will recover.
When firefighters responded to the call at roughly 5:30 a.m. Saturday, the structure at 431 Grandin Drive was already engulfed in flames.
“Upon arrival, there was pretty heavy smoke showing,” said Herb Pearce, senior captain. “Unfortunately, the building is destroyed. The roof has caved in, so it’s a loss.”
The Legal department was called in to assist Morinville in fighting the fire. Firefighters remained on scene for most of the day Saturday monitoring hotspots and assisting with demolition.
A few surrounding homes were evacuated and blanketed with water to prevent radiant heat and sparks from igniting the structures.
Before the investigation could begin, firefighters were tasked with eliminating hotspots and subsequently pumping the water from the basement of the structure. Thiemann said the water was about waist-deep.