THE PASTOR of a fire-damaged Newquay church has thanked God that Sunday’s blaze didn’t start 30 minutes earlier – when toddlers were in the building.
Five fire crews tackled the flames that destroyed a room where a new soup kitchen was under development at the United Reformed Church on Bank Street at 1pm.
Andrew Mitchell said he and colleagues had just finished a post-service prayer meeting when a colleague smelt burning.
They discovered thick black smoke in the crèche room, close to the source of the fire, where four tots had been playing just half an hour before.
Mr Mitchell told the Cornish Guardian: “God works in mysterious ways. It was by His grace that the fire didn’t start earlier. You can’t imagine what would have happened. The damage was minimal when you consider human lives could have been at risk.”
It took firefighters an hour to control the blaze, which is said to have begun accidentally in the roof space of the building, which backs onto The Crescent.
The roof of the new soup kitchen was destroyed and one person was treated for smoke inhalation at the scene.
Mr Mitchell is currently overseeing a £35,000 refurbishment project that will see the soup kitchen moved from the front to the back of the building, into a former B&B that was incorporated into the church 15 years ago.
He said the fire would set the project back by at least a month, and the soup kitchen – a vital lifeline to the resort’s growing homeless population – would be suspended until next week.
The insurance company had been contacted, he said, and work was set to begin immediately to repair the fire and water damage.
Mr Mitchell said he hoped the church’s revamped soup kitchen, which will also include a dining area and two meeting rooms, will be ready for use by the end of September.
The fire will not affect the Street Safe team, who are due to use the church as a base to help lost and vulnerable people on the resort’s streets during the busy summer season.
He thanked the people of Newquay for their support in the wake of the fire, and said any donations were always welcome.
“Everyone has been fantastic,” Mr Mitchell said. “We want to be part of this community.
“If anyone wants to make a donation to our continuing work we would be very grateful.”
The church’s vision is to secure around £150,000 to fund a full-time community worker to work with homeless people in the town.
“The aim is not to just feed and clothe them but to break the cycle of homelessness and get them homed, into rehab or whatever they need,” said Mr Mitchell.
To givee to the church visit www.urc.org.uk or drop in.