Building attached to London church destroyed by fire
LONDON, ONT. -- With flames raging through the roof of an adjacent driveshed, London and Middlesex fire departments worked together to prevent the destruction of a century old church on Westminster Drive.
Just before 9 a.m., a 911 call came into London fire telling them the Harvesters Baptist Church, southwest of Lambeth was on fire.
Church member Dave Scott was watching firefighters douse the building from the nearby intersection.
"My grandfather and his brothers helped build the building in 1912," says Scott. "It's pretty sad, but at least they saved the church building, that's the main thing."
The shed attached to the church was a gymnasium, but also housed a library, offices and a utility room where they stored items to be shipped to the Philippines. It was used for volleyball, the kids’ club and other youth groups.
"Our biggest concern was the heritage building," says Colin Toth, Middlesex Centre fire chief. "We kept that blanket of water to make sure it didn't extend to that."
Toth says when they arrived the building was fully involved, so they weren't sending firefighters inside.
"It was a defensive attack and it was a little bit of a stubborn fire, but we got it knocked down as quick as we could."
When firefighters first arrived on scene, there was a large concern about that propane tank that was located just a few feet behind the building. "There were actually a number of hazards," says Gary Mosburger, London fire platoon chief. "There was a hydro wire that was disconnected and live, and that propane tank was a concern."
Both fire crews had discussions about whether to bring in equipment to assist in case the building collapsed on the tank, but it collapsed inside.
Mosburger praised the cooperative teamwork between the neighbouring fire departments. "We don't do a lot of fires together," says Mosburger. "However it was seamless and we controlled it from spreading to the church."
The church's pastor Lyle Featherstone was on scene and was distraught. He did tell CTV News he is thankful for the work of the dozens of firefighters who stopped the blaze from spreading to the church.
There was a plan in place to renovate the structure within the next year, but that doesn't make it easier to see it go up in flames, church members say. "We've put a lot of work into that building," says Scott. “We were hoping to upgrade things in the future, but it has to happen sooner than planned."