Aurora church fire linked to roof work

The fire that destroyed a historic church in Aurora is ruled accidental.

No sprinkler system in historic church, which was partly exempt from Ontario fire code

RAW: Aurora church fire

9 years ago
Duration 0:25
Fire destroys the historic United Church in Aurora, Ont.

The fire that destroyed a historic church in Aurora on Friday has been ruled accidental.

Officials said the blaze was caused by a team of roofers who were working with boiling tar atop the United Church, which has stood at the centre of town since 1878. 

Their equipment is now evidence in an investigation by the Ontario fire marshal. 

No one was injured in the fire but the church, which did not have a sprinkler system, was destroyed. 

Heavy smoke blanketed downtown Aurora as fire crews battled the blazing church. (Travis Dhanraj/CBC)
Places of worship — notably those built before 1986 — are partially exempt from the Ontario fire code's rules about sprinklers. 

"That is why, most of the time, whenever there is a fire, it burns right to the ground," said Father Justin Desroches, pastor of Sacre-Coeur Parish. 

Church officials have vowed to rebuild, though the loss has cast a shadow over the upcoming Easter celebrations. 

Local resident Ursula Ivonoffski says while the building may now be in ruins, the spirit of the congregation and community isn't.

“It is difficult but, in another way, it is rather appropriate. It's the season of life and love — of resurrection and this is test for everyone and we will demonstrate that,” she said. 

Officials said they will hold this week's Sunday service somewhere else. 

Fire and demolition crews remained on the scene Saturday as they made sure the flames were completely out.

Heavy smoke blanketed the area Friday as crews from across the region battled the fire all day and into the night, leading to the evacuation of nearby buildings. 

It is the second major fire at a Toronto-area church in a week, following the destruction of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Brampton. 

With files from Travis Dhanraj, Natalie Kalata and Canadian Press