The city’s fire department says the main building of a Nepean church will have to be demolished after a major fire broke out late Thursday afternoon.
At one point, a dozen fire crews battled the blaze at Living Waters Christian Assembly church near Merivale and West Hunt Club roads.
Reports of fire and smoke came in just before 4 p.m., and the first crews were on the scene at 105 Slack Rd.within minutes.
As of 5:30 p.m., about a dozen crews were fighting the fire. Flames poured through the church roof and were still visible at the top of the structure at 7 p.m., as firefighters continued to douse the structure with water from at least four hoses.
Ottawa Fire Services spokesperson Danielle Cardinal said frigid temperatures added to safety and logistical challenges for firefighters — such as causing fire hydrants to freeze — but the church structure itself also posed difficulties.
“We’re looking at large open spaces, big large timber. If part of the structure is compromised, we’re looking at a really quick collapse,” she said.
Cardinal said crews kept the fire from spreading to two nearby structures, but the main church building appeared to be a total loss.
Shortly after 9 p.m., Ottawa Fire Services sent a statement confirming that heavy equipment crews would be making their way to the Slack Road church to demolish the remainder of the main building for “security reasons.”
The fire department also issued condolences to the members of Living Waters Christian Assembly for their “tremendous loss.”
No injuries have been reported, although firefighters will be conducting a follow-up search once the fire is extinguished.
‘It’s our home’
Trinity Noble, a volunteer with the church’s youth program and the granddaughter of the pastors, said she was in tears when she heard that the building had caught fire.
She said she rushed to the scene after work.
“It hasn’t really sunk in like at all. I kind of don’t want to leave, because I feel like if I leave it’s gone,” she said.
“Like, it’s our home. My whole family does so much for people and the church is awesome. We’re just hoping that this isn’t the end and there’s more good stuff to come.”
Noble said plans had been underway for a Christmas Eve service this Sunday, but she’s not sure whether that will go ahead.