New West church holds special service for fire crews, victims
Dozens poured into a New Westminster church today to thank first responders who battled a massive downtown blaze that reduced a 100-year-old building to ash.
Parishioners of Five Stones Church honoured firefighters, police officers and everybody who played a key role in putting out the fire, which started at around 4 a.m. Thursday.
Those in attendance also prayed for the families and business owners whose livelihoods were lost in the fire.
“We just have a lot of sorrow for the people who have to rebuild, and if there’s anything we can do, we want to help,” said congregation member Shannon Williams. “It’s pretty devastating, but I know New West is a strong community,”
The church is now planning to erect an “encouragement wall” at the site of the fire. Residents are being asked to stop by and write comments offering support for the merchants affected.
“We’re just excited that there’s so much community effort around this and we’re proud to be part of it,” said pastor Rich Kao.
It’s still too early to tell what sparked the blaze in the dead of night, according to officials.
New Westminster Fire Chief Tim Strong said propane tanks on the roof of the building, being used by a roofing crew during the week, caused explosions after the blaze originated.
The flames spread quickly to neighbouring buildings and grew so large reinforcements had to be called in from Burnaby and Delta.
The heritage building at 634 Columbia St. was reduced to rubble, including the dozens of businesses in it.
An investigation is ongoing.