By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – Arson is suspected in a July 2 fire that began inside a garage at First Congregational Church, 98 Superior Blvd., the Rev. Carrie Orlando said in a statement to the congregation.
“If it proves to be that someone deliberately set the fire, how we respond as Christians and as a church will reflect our faith in God,” Orlando said.
The church next to the garage houses Waynewright Community Meals, also know as the Wyandotte Soup Kitchen, in its basement, which, despite the partial power outage, was able to maintain power to the freezers and refrigerators and to continue to serve meals to those in need.
Fire Chief Jeffery Carley said the alarm came in at 11:49 p.m., and began inside the detached garage on the church property, which was used to store furniture, lumber, camping and hiking equipment.
The fire burned through the roof, damaging the overhead electrical wires and a nearby transformer. The responding firefighters employed a defensive blitz with water to protect a nearby home. Southgate firefighters provided on-site mutual aid.
Wyandotte Municipal Services secured the electrical lines impacted by the fire, while police officers investigated the scene and Belfor property restoration personnel secured the site.
Sarah Pettigrew, who runs the soup kitchen, said on July 6 that they are waiting to see what type of settlement will be provided by the insurance company to replace lost supplies before turning to the community for help.
“We would feel disingenuous if we started a fund and took advantage of goodwill in the community when there are so many other needs right now,” Pettigrew said. “We hope the community will definitely continue to support us with in kind donations, pantry staples, paper products, etc. Once we get the determination from the insurance company, we will definitely reach out if there are items we cannot cover.”
Pettigrew said the soup kitchen’s industrial-style stove is out of commission, which she hopes is due to the power outage, but they won’t know if it was damaged by the damaged transformer until full power is restored.
“It may be tricky or expensive to replace, but we are hopeful that it is just due to the outage,” Pettigrew said.
She said she was grateful that no one was hurt.
“At the end of the day, we can still serve people,” Pettigrew said. “We have our electricity, we have our AC – we are so blessed. What a luxury that we live in a community where first responders arrived so rapidly and were thorough and exceptional.”
Orlando urged parishioners to pray for the perpetrator.
“We are called to always choose compassion, forgiveness and mercy, even when that is a difficult choice,” Orlando said. “No matter what the cause of the fire, this church community will be sustained by our ever-faithful God.
“No one knows why bad things happen, but we have lived God’s ever-present love in the past and will continue to be surrounded by it now and in the future.”