Fire at Sacred Heart Church caused by smudging materials: EFRS


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A fire at a central Edmonton church on Sunday was caused by improperly discarded smudging materials, say officials.

At 2:12 p.m., Edmonton Fire Rescue Services (EFRS) received a call for a structure fire at Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples, near 108 Avenue and 96 Street, with reports flames were coming out the back door and second floor of the building.

Fire crews arrived minutes later and confirmed a working fire. The fire was brought under control by 5:17 p.m. and fully extinguished by 9:14 p.m. There were no reported injuries.

Fire investigators determined the blaze began on the ground floor of the building and spread to the walls and ceiling. The fire is believed to have started when smouldering or non-extinguished components from a ceremonial smudging process were improperly discarded into a metal coffee can that was partially full of cedar/herbs and other combustible items.

A bouquet of flowers has been placed on a fire damaged window at the rear of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church of the First Peoples, 10821 96 St., in Edmonton Monday Aug. 31, 2020. The church was heavily damaged in an Aug. 30, 2020 fire. Photo by David Bloom

The total damage from the fire is estimated at $350,000, with $300,000 damage to the building and $50,000 for contents.

EFRS is reminding the public to use deep, non-combustible containers or ashtrays to discard lit materials. The materials should be soaked in water before discarding them to prevent them from smouldering and starting a fire.

Lit materials should also never be extinguished in containers with other combustible materials such as dry plants or potting soil.

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