Some parishioners of the Whitehorse United Church were praying a little more intently this week.
At around 12:30 on Tuesday morning, the Whitehorse Fire Department responded to a call from security monitoring company Spectrum. When they arrived at the church on the corner of Main Street and Sixth Avenue, they found a garden hose turned on and pushed into an upper-storey window.
The water caused the church’s fire alarm to go off. The hose ran from the front of the church, and had been on earlier in the evening when the sprinkler was running.
When Fred Smith, chair of the church’s property committee, arrived shortly after, firefighters had removed the hose. They stayed for some of the initial cleanup. Smith and another property committee member stayed on until early in the morning using mops and a shop vacuum to minimize the damage.
The hose was found in the window of the room the church choir uses. Water flowed from that room into the sanctuary and leaked into the basement below.
Because it was not a fire, the fire department did not conduct a damage assessment. No furniture was damaged but the drywall in the nursery is being replaced. The estimate the church received places the damages at approximately $15,000.
The fire chief classified the incident as an “act of senseless vandalism,” said Matthew Grant, city spokesperson. The vandals likely viewed the action as a prank, said Smith. But even if it was just a prank, there have been many people affected.
Insurance will not cover all the costs. The church uses much of its money to support service projects, overseas and in Whitehorse. It doesn’t have funds specifically reserved to pay for incidents like this. The money the church receives “comes out of our own pockets,” Smith said.
On Thursday morning, dehumidifiers and vacuums were still running. Most of the drywall was dry, said Shanon Gray of Gray Management Services, which is working on the repairs. He hopes to have most of the repairs finished by early next week.
This was the first major act of vandalism seen at this church building, Smith said.
The current building was built in the early ‘90s after a major fire damaged the previous church.
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