A passing neighbor may have helped to save the Lucknow Community Christian Reformed Church building on August 25 when he heard the smoke alarm going off and called for help. Fire trucks arrived at the small Ontario church at the same time as property manager Eric Exel. Firefighters were able to put out the blaze from the inside, preserving the structural integrity of the building.
The fire, likely caused by an overheating electronic device, was small, said interim pastor Ken deBoer. But extensive smoke and water damaged the sanctuary and some of the rooms underneath it. Blogging soon after the event, deBoer wrote, “There was . . . a huge mess. A small area on the stage had burnt. Soot covered the entire sanctuary. Water was dripping into the kitchen and nursery. . . . We feel overwhelmed by the scope of the task clean-up will be.”
A restoration company started work almost immediately. Pews and books were removed for cleaning and ventilators and fans placed to dry out what could be saved. The rest, including carpet and much of the drywall, was disposed of. A month after the fire, member Jocelyn deBoer said, “It’s just sinking in how much damage there actually is. Electronics are not salvageable. All the appliances have been condemned. The nursery is gutted to the concrete blocks. All the toys are gone.”
Although the congregation initially thought a few weeks would suffice for clean-up, now they hope to be back in the building by Christmas. There are things to be thankful for, said deBoer. “No one was hurt. We’ve got insurance. [And] there’s a clear sense that our church is not about a building, but about a community and a faith that holds us together.”
Since the fire, Lucknow CRC has been worshiping in the local Presbyterian Church, with weekly programs hosted by various other community churches.