Winnipeg church destroyed by fire

Pastor Robert Hernandez worries a fire that resulted in the demolition and destruction of his church was intentionally set, saying it’s the second fire reported at the site in recent days. Morgan Modjeski reports.

By News Staff

Editor’s Note: Correction was made to the name of the church that burned down. Previously the article indicated the Church of God of Prophecy, that has been changed to Spanish Church of God.

A church in Winnipeg’s Elmwood neighborhood needed to be demolished after it partially collapsed in a significant fire early Wednesday morning.

The Spanish Church of God at the corner of Tweed Avenue and Watt Street was declared a complete loss after the early-morning blaze.

One firefighter was injured and taken to hospital in stable condition, and a neighbouring home needed to be evacuate “as a precaution.”

WFPS fire crews were called to the church shortly before 4 a.m. They arrived to find heavy smoke and flames coming from the building.

Crews could not enter the building due to the flames, and instead fought the fire using aerial ladders and handlines.

The fire was declared under control at 5:49 a.m.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Residents were urged to avoid the area around Tweed and Watt while the church was being demolished.

Reaction to fire

Church leadership and neighbours are worried following a fire that forced the demolition of an Elmwood church, concerned the blaze was set deliberately, as the recent fire was the second one reported in recent days.

“I feel very sad, In the morning, when I got up, I saw the flames. Our church is gone,” said Pastor Robert Hernandez, who leads the Spanish Church of God as he stands with his brother in faith from a nearby congregation Armando Montes who is helping the church, a congregation of roughly 45 to 50 people, as they deal with the loss. Translating for the Pastor, Montes says church leadership worry the fire is suspicious.

“They think that there is a good chance, that it was Arson.”

Pastor Hernandez says church leadership will be meeting with higher levels of church governance in the coming days to determine next steps.

Winnipeg Fire and Paramedic Service officials confirmed there was another small fire outside of the church at roughly 1:30 a.m., Tuesday night, saying it happened adjacent to the church, but did not extend to the building. They say it was quickly put out and no injuries were reported.

But Alieshia Hoffman, who reported the first fire to 911 and witnessed the second, when asked how the back-to-back blazes have left her feeling, her answer was simple: “Worried that their might be an arson(ist) on the loose. I mean it’s just too strange that there would be two fires at the same location within 24 hours of each other.”

Hoffman, and other neighbours in the area, say authorities took a bike from the scene of the fire, and she hopes authorities investigate both together to determine if there was a connection or malicious intent.

“We’re a small little pocket in Elmwood and I want local residents to feel safe — just like myself,” said Hoffman.

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