A church in Okotoks was targeted by arson over the weekend.
Early Sunday morning, three windows of the Okotoks Alliance Church were broken, and a fire was set inside.
The fire alarm went off at around 1 a.m., and fire personnel were soon on the scene.
The church’s head pastor, Reverend Terry Lee, says the fire was most definitely set intentionally.
“I don’t think they entered the building; it looks like [the windows] were kicked in, or a projectile was pushed through, then gasoline was thrown in and lit on fire. There was actually gasoline in little containers laying around.”
Luckily, the building’s fire doors having automatically closed paired with the quick response from the Okotoks Fire Department meant that damage from the fire was limited to one room, though the smoke damage is more widespread.
The fire was set in one of the children’s ministry rooms in the building’s North Wing.
The church has been closed since, though it’s expected to reopen and resume service this weekend.
They’re looking at possibly utilizing portable structures in the meantime for organizations that utilize spaces in the church.
Lee says St. Peters Anglican Church and Grace Lutheran Church reached out and offered help and space for the Alliance Church, should they need it.
The RCMP are investigating, though Lee hasn’t heard any updates as of yet.
Lee says, more than anything, the church is looking to make things right with whoever was behind the fire.
“It’s obviously distressing, but people in the church family have been very gracious. Concerned that someone would do this, concerned for that person. That they get the help they need. We would be concerned that if this is something more than a random act and something that’s targeted, if we’ve caused any offense to someone in the community that they would give us an opportunity to make that right. We exist to care for people’s spiritual needs. We also exist to serve the people of our greater community and have tried to do so over many years.”
The church’s insurance should cover the cost of repairs, says Lee, minus a $5000 deductible.
The space that was damaged is likely to be closed for several months, though the lobby and sanctuary will be safe and accessible in the next week.