Church of the Epiphany, Surrey.  The fire was in the parish hall at the back of the church, the rooftop of which can be just seen

Cleanup of smoke damage in the nave of Church of the Epiphany in Surrey has begun, after a fire last Saturday, October 8, destroyed the parish hall located behind the church.

The Rev. Stephen Rowe said the parish will restore Smith Hall, using money from the diocesan insurance policy that covers Anglican buildings in the diocese.

The cleanup began Tuesday, Oct. 11, and insurance adjusters were to come the next day.

Services were cancelled Sunday morning, Rowe said, and he and warden Margaret Upton-Sharpe, who were at the fire shortly after it broke out at 11 pm, tried to contact all parishioners by phone or email.

However, for those who hadn’t heard or wanted to see what happened and came anyway, a short service was held in the parking lot.

“We are sorry that the various community groups that use are hall have lost their premises,” said Rowe. These included a pre-school, Brownies, and Narcotics Anonymous. In addition other groups who use the building for worship – Korean, Filipino, Ukranian, and Seventh Day Adventist congregations – were unable to hold services Sunday.

Damaged was the 1970 hall that could seat about 200 people, a room used by a daycare, a lounge, and a passageway leading to the main church. Lost in the hall were a small electric organ, prayer and hymn books, and tables and chairs. The kitchen suffered a bit damage but was mostly untouched except for the smoke.


The fire in the church hall of the Church of Epiphany, Surrey, destroyed the furniture and other items inside (Amanda Wilson photo)

The Surrey Fire Department worked hard to keep the fire from spreading to the main church building at 10553 148th Street in Surrey. “The firemen did a great job – they were fighting the fire for eight hours,” said Mike Wellwood, diocesan business administrator who was at the site in the morning.

The Church of the Epiphany, including Smith Hall, was built in 1970. Recently the parish has been considering how to renew their property for future growth, and plan to begin the Get Fit program this fall.

The cause of the fire was not immediately determined by the fire department, which however said it was being treated as “suspicious.” The fire appeared to begin at a rear entrance where smokers sometimes gather, and the hall had been in use Saturday night. However, Rowe refused to speculate on what had happened.

“We have to put this in context,” he said. “No people were hurt and we still have the church. When you consider what has happened to people in Pakistan and elsewhere, our loss is pretty small, really,” he said.