Latest from St Mary's
The clean-up begins
A start has been made on the clean-up operation.
The first thing to do was to make the air in the church more breathable.� There is still a heavy smell of smoke in the place and long exposure gives rise to headaches.
This is because particulates are contaminating the air, so first thing this morning air scrubbers , fans and de-humidifiers were wheeled in.� Last night we had been able to establish which power circuits could be safely switched on and two out of the three ring mains were activated, so we could set the units working straight away.
Later an additional temporary supply was installed from a separate phase to share the load.
We next had a visit from the gas man to check it was safe to switch the gas back on.
The gas main was well away from the seat of the fire and pronounced safe and two out of the three heating systems can be switched on. A skip has been delivered to take fire damaged articles.
There have been many visitors asking about the damage, but as the church is effectively a work site for the next few days access must be restricted.� As and when circumstances permit we will allow people in to see what we are doing and confirm for themselves that the church is an up and going concern.
News travels fast
Among the many messages of good wishes and support we have received following the fire, have been one from Colin, Bishop of Dorchester and one from Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. They both expressed their concern for our plight and confirmed we will be in their thoughts and prayers.
After the smoke has cleared
After the dramatic events of Sunday afternoon, we have spent today examining the damage, assessing what needs to be done immediately and in the long term, and doing exhaustive interviews with various radio,TV and the media.
Extensive damage has been done to the roof of the old organ chamber now a vestry, kitchen and meeting room area, also the main roof of the chancel. There are large holes in both where the firemen had to cut through to get at the fire. These are sheeted at the moment, but a temporary scaffold roof will need to be erected for more long term use while repairs are carried out. There has also been a lot of water damage to articles below where they were putting out the fire and smoke contamination and smell all through the church.
Much will need to be done to put things right and this will inevitable take some time. Ecclesiastical Insurance have been marvellous, and provided a team of experts this morning to advise on what can be done and help to do it. Some will be coming back tomorrow to start the clean up operation and with luck we should be able to return to some parts of the church this Sunday or next. We have been inundated with offers of help and this is wonderful; as soon as we know what is specialised work and what is not, we may be able to arrange for this help to be mobilised.
In the end, we have had a lucky escape. No-one was hurt, we still have two thirds of a church to use, and comprehensive insurance cover for the repairs. There may be opportunities to incorporate into the repairs enhancements to our facilities, but this of course would have to be at our own expense, but probably cheaper than starting from scratch. All these things will wait to be considered in the future. For now, although the damage is extensive, thanks to the prompt and expert actions of the fire brigade, we still have a church.