Fire damages historic church building in Kamloops

Firefighters in Kamloops, B.C., are investigating the cause of a fire at a historic church building in the city’s downtown.

Crews were called out just before 9 a.m. PT Thursday to St. Andrew’s on the Square at 156 Seymour St.

Deputy fire chief Ryan Cail said the fire appeared to start outside the wooden building, which is believed to be the oldest public structure in the city, before spreading into the attic. 

“It’s a heartbreaker …This building serves a lot of memories for people in this town,” he said.

Cail said crews did their best to minimize damage using thermal imaging to target warm spots in the roof so they only pulled down affected panels. 

The full extent of the damage is not yet known, but there appears to be significant damage from water and smoke.

A burning shopping cart was seen against the side of the building after the fire was reported.

WATCH | Flames and smoke at Kamloops church building: 

Investigation into Kamloops church fire underway

17 hours ago

Duration 0:59

Firefighters are investigating the cause of a fire at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, believed to be the oldest public building in Kamloops, B.C., after a fire Thursday morning.

Firefighters were able to remove some of the historical items in the 137-year-old building, along with some of the photos of couples married in the former church.

The City of Kamloops took over operations of the building in 2019. Since then it has been used for events like weddings, concerts and book sales.

Melanie Formanski, who helped restore the church in the 1990s and managed the building for 25 years, told CBC News she was saddened by the news of the fire but not surprised. 

“It was just a matter of time without anybody in the building all the time,” she said.

She said she hopes the city will look at restoring the building.

“It’s important that we save our historical buildings as much as possible … I was there the first time around and I’m pretty sure it can be saved again with a little bit of dedication, fundraising and some people that believe in it. 

Kamloops Deputy Mayor Kelly Hall said it’s still too early to know what the city plans to do with the church, and there will be a full briefing on what happened before any decisions are made.

Power outage

Shortly after the fire was reported Thursday morning, B.C. Hydro said a power outage was affecting almost 2,000 customers across the city, including the downtown area.

B.C. Hydro’s website listed “fire” as the cause of the outage, but it’s not clear if it was linked to the church blaze.

Power was restored to all but around 100 customers as of 1:15 p.m.


Posted in CBC