How the church burned to the ground, and who’s responsible?
A church in southland has been burned to its foundations after a massive fire that tore through the property.
The church, St. Paul’s, was one of three that housed the congregation in a Victorian-era building.
Firefighters battled the blaze for hours.
It started when the building caught fire, and the congregation was forced to evacuate.
“We were there when the fire started, and we’re still there now,” pastor Steve Jones told the ABC.
The fire also destroyed another building, the church’s main sanctuary.
Church officials said the church has not reopened but is now safe to reopen.
Jones said the fire is not believed to be linked to the church, which was founded in the late 19th century and has been in the parish since the 1800s.
Evacuees were told to seek shelter in a nearby church that was destroyed by a similar fire.
A church on the edge of the Burnside river in Southland, which had been home to the congregation, was also destroyed in the fire.
The blaze was reported around 8:00am local time (AEDT), with a smoke plume drifting across the city.
Southland fire chief Tim Withers said the area was “overwhelmingly destroyed”.
“It was a very large fire,” Witherss told ABC News Breakfast.
He said there were “many buildings that were on fire and not in good shape”.
South Land’s mayor, Steve Wright, said the city was “shocked and saddened” to learn of the church loss.
In a statement, he said he was “deeply saddened” by the loss of the St. Matthew’s Church, “and my thoughts are with the congregation and all those who have lost their homes in the fires”.
The church, located at the intersection of South Land and the Burnley River, was built in 1882.
Its main sanctuary was destroyed, but it was not immediately clear how many buildings were damaged or how many people were displaced.
Withers told ABC Radio Adelaide the church was the only congregation in the city, which he described as “a bit of a backwater”.
He urged residents to check with the fire department if they were in the area.
‘A really good story’For more than 20 years, the St Matthew’s congregation had been hosting Sunday services at the church on its property.
At the time of the fire, the fire service said the building housed a congregation of about 50 people.
According to fire department statistics, the area had been known to have a “small but steady increase in fire activity” between October last year and January this year.
ABC Radio Adelaide’s Laura Smith reported from Southland that the fire had destroyed about one third of the building’s original walls.
More than half the property had been left in ruins.
It is not known when the church will be reopened, but Witherson said the congregation had a “very good story to tell” about the fire and its aftermath.
Topics:fire,church-and-beliefs,christianity,churchfire,south-land,sa,act,australiaFirst posted April 21, 2019 19:13:55More stories from South Australia