Story updated at 4:35 p.m. with additional information and content
Above: The Town held a media availability at 11 a.m. at Town Hall. Above is Theron Hogg’s footage of that media availability.
Lucie Roy Photos
Stephen Dafoe Photos
Theron Hogg Video
Morinville RCMP are investigating the fire that resulted in the complete destruction of Morinville’s St. Jean Baptiste Church.
The Town of Morinville Fire Department said a 9-11- call was received at 3:08 a.m. Wednesday morning reporting a fire at the church in Morinville. The time of dispatch was 3:10 a.m. with Morinville Fire Department crews arriving on the scene at 3:20 a.m.
“Upon arrival, crews determined the fire was already well involved in the basement of the structure. Fire crews attempted to make entry, but the building was charged with smoke and collapse was already occurring,” a Town press release reads.
Crews got the fire under control by 6:58 a.m. but the church was completely destroyed due to the fire. Crews remained on scene throughout the day.
Equipment and personnel from Gibbons, Bon Accord, Legal, Sturgeon County, St. Albert and Edmonton assisted with approximately 50 firefighters on scene.
Nearby buildings were saved including the former convent building which sustained water and smoke damage. Approximately 50 residents were evacuated and will remain out of the building for 48 hours. Many were taken to the Morinville Legion for shelter, water and food.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. An investigator is on the scene.
In a media availability at 11 a.m., Mayor Barry Turner spoke to the loss of the historic church. That statement was released by the town late Tuesday.
“We can never replace what was lost here today,” Turner said. “Many thanks to the first responders that worked to keep our community safe. Our loss is enormous and could have been much worse, except for the brave men and women that answered the call. A sincere thank you to all of our mutual aid partners that sent teams from across the region, we are thankful for your support.
“I can’t describe the range of emotions we are all feeling today. The incredible shock and loss is overwhelming. Each of us needs to dig deep and find that seed of resilience and strength that lies within us. We will need each other to hold ourselves and our community up. We will be strong together. I know what this community is made of and we are all stronger than we know.
“Many have already stepped forward and I cannot fully express the gratitude for those who have responded with support for our community and for those in need right now. It is this resilience in the face of our loss that will unite us in our will to persevere, recover and rebuild.
“Tomorrow the Morinville Community Cultural Centre will be open from 10 am to 2 pm for anyone who wishes to come together and support each other through this terrible loss. Together we are stronger, and together we will move forward.”
Premier Jason Kenney was joined by Minister of Justice and Solicitor General?Kaycee Madu, Associate Minister of Natural Gas and Electricity and Morinville-St. Albert MLA Dale Nally and Sturgeon River-Parkland MP Dane Lloyd in a second press conference later that morning.
In a social media post Tuesday afternoon, the Premier wrote: “I visited the burned-out remains of the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church in Morinville to express my sorrow and solidarity with the local community, Franco-Albertans, and Catholics across the province.
“We must all reject hateful acts of violence whenever and wherever they occur.”
In Morinville, Kenney announced a doubling of the Alberta Security Infrastructure Program from $1 million to $2 million annually to “help protect churches and other targets of hateful vandalism and violence.”
Kenney said he has instructed Minister Madu to work with ALERT and the province’s police chiefs to step up monitoring and protecting potential target sites.
Below is the Premier’s video can be viewed at https://fb.watch/6sGoXW6T25/