WATCH: Fire guts historic church in Aurora

Blaze was accidental says Central York Fire Services

Central York Fire Services have concluded the fire that gutted a historic church in Aurora was an accident.

"We have interviewed a number of witnesses," says deputy chief Paul Leslie. "Looking at the evidence of where the fire started and the feedback from our crews, we've concluded that the fire was caused by the roofing company's actions."

The roofers were on the job at the time, fixing a leak.

Fire and demolition crews are expecting a long day ahead of them Saturday, as they work to get to the base of the building and make sure all hot spots are out.

Flames started shooting from the top of a flat-roofed addition at the back of Aurora United Church at 10:30 am Friday.

The current structure has occupied its position on Yonge St,  just south of Wellington St E since 1878.  It's the religious home of 600 parishioners and a hub for a slew of community groups and charities.

Laurie stood arm-in-arm with her daughter, watching the place where she'd been confirmed, married and her children were christened go up in flames.

"You have to be thankful no one was hurt," she said as tears streamed down her face onto her bright pink T-shirt, "but it's got a lot of really good memories."

At this point, it looks like not much of the building will be salvagable.


Parishioners and neighbours describe the church with soaring cathedral ceilings, a rounded balcony and pipe organ as warm and welcoming.

By Friday night, it was unclear if any of the historic building could be salvaged.  

A demolition team had been tapped to tear down the parts of the roof that hadn't already caved in to allow crews to spray water directly onto the flames from outside.  Deputy Fire Chief Paul Leslie said removing those surviving sections of roof could leave some walls unstable and ultimately lead to their collapse.

Minister Andrew Comar tried to stay positive as he watched his parish burn.

"It's a building. And buildings can be fixed and replaced...the church is always the people."

Comar says there is the promise of new life with Easter a little more than a week away.  He says the support and offers of help the church has received as it enters the most important and holy period of the Christian calendar have been wonderful.

Leave a comment:

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  1. Frankie posted on 04/11/2014 04:19 PM
    Two churches in one week. Is this an Islamist plot?
  2. john posted on 04/12/2014 11:16 AM
    is it me or is god trying to tell us something . ?
  3. supportive posted on 04/12/2014 05:20 PM
    Don't worry, no conspiracies between Brampton fire and Aurora....
    Sounds like the other congregations in Aurora are VERY Supportive to each other, and AUC has already noted on their website:
    "Friday April 11, 2014,
    No one was hurt.
    Things will be replaced.
    Stay tuned to what we do next!"
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