Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Fire at Brayton Church

This morning at 3:30am our church caught fire.


Karen Carter, a friend of ours who lives behind the building located on Brayton Drive, was having a slumber party at her house when she noticed the flames coming from the chapel area of the building and called the fire department then called church leaders. It's been burning ever since.

I'm hearing that the building is a total loss, the roof is destroyed and the fire department is just waiting for it to cave in, flames are still coming from the top. I still smell like smoke even from the short time I spent at the scene.

Four congregations currently meet in that building and church leaders are already trying to find schools and other places for us to meet in until it can be rebuilt. I've been told I'll be able to get in and collect my activity supplies before they secure the building for good some time this evening. All eight congregations--four that meet in our building and four from another building--are going to meet at the building located on Strawberry Road next week for only 70 minutes each rather than our full three-hour Sunday schedule to make room for everyone. Church headquarters is sending up a facilities rep to deal with the issues that will be coming. Luckily the wind has been blowing the right direction so the temple across the parking lot to the south is safe.

The irony is, when the building was built in 1977 and ready for occupancy--even the pianos were moved in--it caught fire and burned. What are the odds of two fires in the same building? With so many church members using the Brayton building there is a new building being built in the Klatt area. We were already bursting at the seams, getting that new building finished will be more important than ever now.

I was baptized in that building and have gone to church there since I was five. Things aren't going to be the same.

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64 comments:

kim said...

Wow. I'm sorry for the congregations that met there, what a big, sudden loss! :-(

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

Oh man...that's sad. I'm sorry you lost so much.

soccer mom in denial said...

Words don't convey how sorry I am.

Leslie said...

Wow. I am so sorry. Do they know what caused the fire?

Veronica Mitchell said...

I am so sorry.

M said...

Not to reiterate, but what a horrible loss for your community. Hopefully a good renewal will come forth from this. Blessings.

Stie said...

Wow. How terrible. (on a side note...I also go to church for three hours! Think we belong to the same church?) :-) What a small world it is...

DS Writer said...

I am sorry for your loss. It's hard to go back to normalcy after this. Reading your post, reminded me of when my small brood and I came back to our home after our area was under attack in the last Israeli-Lebanon war last summer. It took me forever to return to a 'normal routine' again, and in some ways, I still am reminded of that terrible period. It will take time for you to heal.

I found a writing lead for you since you live in Alaska, in case you're interested. (just to help you up) Maybe i should just send it via email.
http://anchorage.craigslist.org/wri/298091489.html

chelle said...

aww I am so sorry for the loss of your church :(

Shalee said...

Scribbit - I'm so sorry for the loss of such a great memory for you and so many others. What a blessing that no one was inside it at the time.

God will use this for his glory. Just you wait and see. Until then, I'm praying for you and all the congregations who have been stunned by this event.

scribbit said...

I was over there again after I posted and there was only one fire truck to keep what was left from spreading but there wasn't anything they could do. It's a complete loss and speculation is that the fire started in the heating system.

Mayberry said...

I'm so sorry. What a lot of memories.

Robin said...

I'm so sorry. What a devastating loss for your community.

kailani said...

That is so sad to lose a place that holds so many wonderful memories! I'm so sorry!

Pendullum said...

I am so very sorry for your loss...
How devastating for your entire community...
The only bright side is the fact that no one was injured...

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Yeah, this is a tragedy. No question about that.

But one of the silver linings might be how the community comes together to rebuild the building.

Best of luck. These things are hard to deal with, I know.

PortraitofPeter said...

It was so very sad to see the church in flames.

My prayers are for all of you in the congretation and in the community.

Blessings to you all from Scotland.

An Ordinary Mom said...

I am so sorry for this terrible loss. How tragic! We will be keeping you and your stake in our prayers.

Busy Mom said...

Oh, I am so sorry, I can't imagine.

Heffalump said...

Something like this puts into perspective the temporary nature of many things in life. We don't think of things like our homes and our church buildings as being so temporary. They seem so solid and dependable and it is always distressing when you find out that they are temporal things.
I hope that you are able to take comfort in the strength of belonging to a church that is the same wherever you go, and that things will be rebuilt soon.

girlymama said...

so sorry. i will pray for you!

Modog Juneau said...

Many years ago the church in Juneau burned. I remember being there in the snow and staying for hours as the firefighters including my father and 3 brother-in-laws fought the blaze. There are not many words to say how that makes you feel.

One of the amazing things you will experience is how the community comes together to rebuild.

The Juneau stake will be keeping you and your stake in our prayers.

Melessa said...

Oh no! If I could, I would send our new portable to you all (we're bursting at the seams too and a portable has been SLC's solution-just like that book and movie about the BBQ). I'm so sorry.

my4kids said...

So sorry for the loss Scribbit. Places like that can hold so many memories.

anna said...

Like everyone else, I'm so sorry. That's such a loss.

Lisa Milton said...

So sorry to hear - especially when you have attended there for so long. Take care.

Anonymous said...

If God truly has a hand in things and he must because everyone always gives him credit when good things happen I think God is trying to tell the Mormans that they are practicing the wrong religion.

scribbit said...

Thanks for the kind words, luckily no one was hurt. There have been many kind people in the community who have already helped.

K T Cat said...

I'm so very, very sorry. Our prayers go out to all of you affected by the fire.

xilope said...

Quick FYI - I'm collecting news and information on this event on my own site, http://www.danlent.com, and have included a link for your article there.

so grateful to be Mormon! said...

This was my beloved church meeting house, too. I was baptized here, too, less than 2 years ago. Yes, good memories are here, but I know that the church bldg is not God. It is a gathering place for the people and we can gather together anywhere to worship and renew our covenants -- that is what matters. Yes, I was (and am) so saddened to helplessly watch the fire still burning today after so many hours while the firefighters tried to put it out, also knowing that even though I wanted to do something, there was nothing I could do to help. But our prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley always says, "Things will work out." And they will. It will be alright, I believe this. " ... and when 2 or 3 are gathered together, He is in the midst of us ..." Be of good comfort. God bless us and you.

PS. Thank you for those who have posted such kind words to the members of our church. Appreciated.

Catherine said...

So very sorry, Scribbit! My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your fellow members.

sara - The Estrogen Files said...

That's hard! I hope that God will provide a good solution quickly.

Watching a fire that doesn't affect you is odd, stomach churning. Watching one that DOES affect you must be so much worse. Did they say what the cause was?

Gina said...

So sorry to hear about the loss..

Anonymous said...

Do they keep any ancestry records there?

scribbit said...

Latest I've heard is:

The inside ceiling tiles and outside shingles were all flame resistant so with the fire originating in the roof area it was difficult to fight. Fire fighters were waiting for the fire to create a hole big enough to get to the flames before they could effectively tackle the job. Word is they were blasting tiles off to create a hole in which to get to the fire.

My husband toured the building this evening and said that the inside looks remarkably good--considering the outside and all the water damage. No one knows yet whether the current building will be rebuilt or will be razed and a new building erected.

scribbit said...

And no, the ancestry records are kept at the building located on Maplewood Drive.

scribbit said...

For those interested, many other denominations and congregations have come forward with offers of help and donations. The Archdiocese of Anchorage, for example. Red Cross volunteers were at the scene this morning helping fire fighters and church leaders. There has been a strong show of support for church members and leaders and come Sunday there will be services as usual--though shortened to an hour--to keep things running forward.

nivramcireel said...

It was truly gut wrenching to watch. I have used that chapel on many occasion since it was built in 1977. The 4 wards will be meeting at Strawberry Chapel this Sunday, all 8 wards will be doing a 1 hr Sacrament meeting with 1/2 hour break in between. Starting at 8AM and ending at 7:30PM
Another poster mentioned relative less damage inside them expected. There are other factors to consider, the build was concrete block which is not energy efficient to heat. Newer buildings have lower utility costs. Natural gas prices have risen 70% in last 3 years here in Anchorage.
I hope everyone can take fresh courage and be patient during the next year or so for the building to be replaced. Bless you all.

The Lees in Ukraine said...

We were deeply saddened to wake up this morning to the sad news of our chapel burning. We were grateful to know that there was no one in the building and that all the members are safe. Our prayers are with you.

Anonymous said...

I have attended this church building since I was 11 years old. My brother, husband, and daughter were all baptized there. I have many wonderful memories there...and I had a wealth of Primary Music and Choir Music stuff inside...but these are all material things. A building is a building...and the new building will be special too. We are going forward with plans for a nice Easter program for our ward- wherever we meet. We will be ok. We always have each other. My father-in-law who is Catholic called to tell us how sorry they were- and to make sure it wasn't the temple that burned.
They had been to the open house and he said it would have made him sad to know that "that beautiful little building" was no longer there. He tried to explain the feeling there- and couldn't find the words. I know it was the Spirit. Already one wonderful conversation has come to me from this tragedy.

Harold said...

This is certainly a sad time for your community. Anytime that folks work hard to build a church and a religion that they believe in and grow up in and share good times with others in, it would be a tragic shock to witness it on fire. Fire is symbolic of different things in the Bible, but for you, at the moment, it probably seems like an element out of control. I will light a candle for you tonight and remember your community in prayer--a candle is a controlled fire and is an ancient religious tradition that represents prayerful remembrance and hope among other things.

I'm glad to read that the Catholic Archdiocese of Anchorage has offered support. This is a wonderful Christlike example of loving one's neighbor and loving one's enemies. As you can read from the one comment that was not supportive, your religion remains quite controversial. I grew up in a small town with members of your religion and they were usually pretty nice folks. But Christlike love often means supporting the person or people, but not what they do. Some people say your religion is a bit self-centered. I have also read the words secretive and closed society as descriptions. Some Christians are offended that you do not honor ancient Christian traditions, symbols and writings, yet use the Christian name. Keep in mind that non-conformity, rebellion, and anti-religion can become a religion, can it not? Judas betrayed the Lord with a kiss--your religion, not the people, does the same with a smile. I would challenge you to rebuild your religion, not your church...
God Bless and God's +PEACE+ be with you as you consider these words...
Brother Harold

Stephanie said...

So very sad! I'm so grateful, though, that the temple wasn't damaged. My sister's ward meets in the Strawberry chapel and I know it will be crowded for a while, but I also know that people will pull together and make it work.

Loralee Choate said...

Oh, that is so hard. Luckily, Mormons are extremely organized and have a really good plan for when stuff like this happens (Even if the leadership of the ward doesn't, the main organization does). My parents ward burned down and my dad was one of the head coordinators for renovation.

As for fire: The theater that I am performing in tonight burned down in 1918 and again in the 70's.

It underwent a total renovation a decade ago and they called it "The Phoenix Project' because of the history of fire.

It can strike buildings twice, sadly.

jchevais said...

I'm sorry to hear of this but am glad that noone was hurt.

If it helps any, the Cathedral in Chartres burned down three times and was bombed during the Great Wars and look at it now: it's amazing!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathedral_of_Chartres

Anonymous said...

I agree, let's pray for people who lost their Church, AND pray for person who have sent his/her negative message, that they may find peace and understanding.

scribbit said...

Thanks for the supportive comments. A couple corrections in my facts:

As it has been pointed out, the building wasn't built in 1977, probably 1976. If I'd bothered to do the math on my age differences I probably could have noticed the glaring error.

Also, my husband did not tour the building last night, I misunderstood. He merely talked with several people who had.

Which brings up the point that members are being asked to stay away from the building until further notice.

Blondie said...

:(

dcrmom said...

Oh, wow. I'm so sorry!

Jenn in Holland said...

Adding our prayers to all being offered on behalf of those who are affected.
Bless you.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Another LDS Stake Center somewhere in Texas burned down the same day.

scribbit said...

Well if you're interested in more news: today (Friday) someone went by the temple across the street from the church and noticed water coming from under the front door. Turns out when the fire department raised the water pressure to fight the fire it blew off a cap on a water pipe. The cap, 6-8" in diameter approx. blew off with such force it drove a tool box through the wall and left water shooting into the lower level. It flooded only the basement level but to waist deep. Luckily the Facilities Rep from SLC had arrived the night before and was able to take a look at the damage to the temple, which was about to close for a week anyway.

Word is that the Facilities Rep says they'd like to rebuild the church rather than razing it because it would be much easier to accomplish sooner. Permitting delays and such being avoided.

Only rumors of course, but that's what I'd heard so far.

The Lazy Organizer said...

Wow, what an event and an exciting opportunity for re-growth! Isn't that what the gospel is all about? Good luck to you and your Stake members!

eve said...

I knew there was a reason I liked your posts so much. We're "Sister" :) I am always shocked when the anti-mormons come out of the wood work. I guess I should be used to it. But in a world the preaches "tolerance" it's amazing how intolerant many are towards us.
I have lived many places in the U.S. and was always glad to leave my small town building behind...but my husband fell in love with the place I grew up and we're back again. I recently drove past the building I grew up in. I used to choreograph many a road show in that building. I even won some awards for it. Quite a big deal to me when I was 17. Seeing that building kind of tugged at my heartstrings. So I can kind of relate. Wow, I didn't realize there were so many LDS in Alaska. I'll have to come up and visit sometime! My prayers are with your stake.

so grateful to be Mormon! said...

hello scribbit -- how neat to run into you and your husband tonight at the movie line. small world. i knew i recognized you from the blog pictures. thank you for posting this about our church. this has been awesome to see the comments from here and abroad. so positive.

kids say some of the neatest things. one of my primary kids (5 y/o) was with her mom yesterday across the parking lot looking at the fire burning and you know what this precious little one said? she said, "i want to know where i am going to be giving my talk in primary on sunday!" she is ready to serve, no matter the circumstance. what an example.

thank you and God bless :)

PS. i love how your dad always has that sparkle in his eyes when he greets me in the church. he always makes me feel so welcome there. and i so enjoyed your mom's sunday school class until i was called to be a primary teacher a few months ago. i can't wait to be in church this sunday and also to see my ward family and primary kids. can't wait :) everything continues.

Anonymous said...

I went to early morning seminary at this beautiful building years ago-'70's. It is tragic to see this place of memories catch fire. I'll be praying for the ward members and their new schedule and location. I'm very sad to see this for a second time. We loved this place. dollyroy@hotmail.com

nivramcireel said...

I was looking through "A Gathering of Saints in Alaska" book, and it would seem we have had 2 other fires. The 11th and E chapel had a fire in Apr 1966 just before the Aug 1966 dedication of the Maplewood chapel. That fire damaged the stage and ceiling in the cultural hall, picture on pg45. And as mentioned by an earlier poster, Juneau had it's chapel burn to the ground in Dec 1974 (text pg58).
There is a picture of the 1976 Brayton fire on pg 49, actually, a little later with construction crane hanging over it. It doesn't show the tall brick walls at each end of cultural hall. Were they replaced, or were they originally wood, and had brick added to second construction?

nivramcireel said...

KTUU channel 2 10PM news confirms that Temple was flooded in the basement. They showed a pump pumping water out the front door.
They also showed a shot of chapel/cultural hall interior.

scribbit said...

I just came back from visiting President Nichols at the hospital and have a few more details. He toured the Brayton building Thursday evening and said the interior was remarkably untouched. The huge wood/glue beams across the ceiling were almost completely uncharred and in normal condition--evidently they're more fire safe than steel. The fire department changed the locks on the building immediately and no one is to go in at all. All supplies, until further notice, are not to be retrieved and should be considered replaceable.

Whether the building will be razed or rebuilt is uncertain, that decision will be made by Salt Lake.

He is in the hospital for some non-elective surgery for severe kidney stones which was done Friday morning but was unsuccessful and will be having a second round of surgery Saturday morning. He's met extensively with President Newman and is working to make arrangements for alternate building facilities.

Also, he was concerned that people are aware the temple is safe. The water damage was in the front, public areas and has not affected the ordinance areas. SLC is already on the scene taking care of damage.

DarcieMalarcie said...

I am tuly sorry for your loss. I can only imagine what all the people that attended church in this particular building must be going through. I am also sorry for the negative comments you have received. You would think that in a world that preaches tolerance and acceptance, in a time like this you would receive supportive message as apposed to message that bash what you believe. I will continue to pray for all of you who are affected by this loss...and for those who's hearts obviously need to be softened. God Bless!

scribbit said...

I've received the official email about seminary. Seminary will begin on Monday in the following locations:

Seniors will meet at K. Andersen's home.

Juniors will meet at the Young's home.

Sophomores will meet at the Huffman's home.

Freshmen will be combined, and meet at the Carter's home.

The seniors, sophomores and freshmen classes should drop off and park at the church parking lot.

Church leaders are looking into various options for other activities: one possibility is moving ATCO portable trailers into the church parking lot to serve as ward and stake office space. They're looking into using South High and Hanshew middle school as Sunday meeting places for the four displaced wards. Word is ward auxiliary leaders should be thinking of how much space they will require for their Sunday meetings and week day activities and be prepared to discuss what they will need with their Bishops.

On another note, President Nichols Friday night mentioned how wonderful the community has been. Cal Worthington called to offer warehouse space to the church and to give a truck for cleanup efforts. He'd been contacted by leaders from the Catholic church, Abbott Loop Community Church, Chapel by the Sea and others all offering help and support. There have been many instances of civic leaders and people living in the area around the church who have expressed love and sympathy for church members.

And yes, he said that a stake center in Texas did burn down the same day. That was confirmed by the Salt Lake facilities rep in town.

scribbit said...

Oh and thank you for the kind comments "Glad to be a Mormon," especially about Pres. Nichols. He's having a hard time of it right now--in a lot of pain and could use some prayers on his behalf. He is concerned that members know that he isn't laying low or missing in action, but that his health problems were previously scheduled before the fire and were non-elective. Now that the first surgery was unsuccessful he's in for more on Saturday and is worried about recovering quickly when the stake needs him.

He's been meeting with Pres. Newman and things are running as best they can--even from his hospital room.

so grateful to be Mormon! said...

you're quite welcome, scribbit. i added your dad to my prayers and i also asked my mom (california) to put his name on her temple prayer list since ours is closed temporarily. i hope he starts to feel all back to his normal sunshiney (is that even a word?) self very soon :)

also, thanks for posting the video clips of the inside chapel and cultural hall/gym.

Christie said...

Oh no!! I'm so sorry to hear that! Sorry I'm commenting so late, but I'm just now catching up on my favorites and read this post! That's awful!!