Many community programs displaced after All Saints Church fire


Photo Gallery: Update: All Saints Parish Center fire

NORTH ADAMS -- While Sunday services are set to resume this weekend at All Saints Episcopal Church on Summer Street, several community programs will be displaced indefinitely after a fire last Saturday damaged its parish house.

Cleanup could take weeks, but the church is set to reopen its doors for Sunday service and Sunday School just a week after the parish house suffered significant water and smoke damage. The fire's cause is still under investigation, according to authorities.

While Sunday services will continue, other programs held in the parish house, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and scout meetings, will be canceled until further notice, according to church officials. The blaze that destroyed a third-story room in the parish house was quickly put out by firefighters, but the water used to extinguish it damaged all three floors.

"The church building itself was not affected," said Parish Administrator John Hockridge. Last Sunday's services only had to be canceled because state fire marshals were investigating the root cause of the fire, he said.

The community has scrambled to find an alternative for the many programs that regularly take place at the parish house. Parishioners from St. Elizabeth's Church made sure that Meals on Wheels, an Elder Services of Berkshire County program that delivers free meals to local seniors, will continue without a hitch, according to Hockridge.

Though it is unclear when the parish offices will reopen, Hockridge said, it's expected to take another several weeks.

"There is a crew of 15 in here that will be here for the next three weeks or more."

Luckily, the damage caused by the fire is completely covered by the church's insurance, Hockridge said.

"We're not able to use the building," Hockridge said. "We're making other provisions for our Sunday school classes and coffee hour."

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries fighting the fire, which started in a third-floor room, according to North Adams Fire Director Steve Meranti.

When firefighters first arrived, there was no visual evidence of a fire, according to Meranti. Firefighters entered and followed the smell of smoke upstairs, where they were able to battle and contain the flames.

"There was extensive heat and smoke damage to the third floor," Meranti said. "It's a stone exterior, so all the heat is held in."

All off-duty firefighters, in addition to an ladder truck from Adams, were called in for assistance. They covered as much of the bottom floors with tarp as they could to protect from water damage, Meranti said.

Both church administrators and firefighters said the damage could have been far worse.

"Three things helped," Meranti said. "Early notification with the alarm system, quick response, and aggressive interior attack [by firefighters]."

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