GALLERY: Investigations continue into St Barnabas’ Church blaze

POLICE are continuing their investigations into the fire which destroyed St Barnabas’ Anglican Church early on Sunday.

Firefighters were called to the blaze on Rocket Street, South Bathurst at around 1.40am. 

While they were able to stop the fire from spreading to the bell tower and church hall, they could not save the church. 

After their initial investigations on Sunday, police seized a Suzuki Vitara 4WD which had been seen in the vicinity of the church shortly before the fire was noticed.

Chifley Local Area Command Inspector Glenn Cogdell said the vehicle was examined by forensic investigators yesterday.

He said police were still appealing for anyone with any information about the blaze to contact Bathurst police or Crime Stoppers.

“We are looking to speak to a male and female who were in the vicinity of the church before the fire started,” he said.

“We are also requesting that anyone with any mobile phone footage or photos of the fire contact Bathurst police.”

Inspector Cogdell said police had recovered some property stolen at the time of the incident.

He added they were still seeking assistance in locating a number of gold ceremonial chalices.

Father James Hodson said he expected the congregation had not yet felt the true loss.

“I think we’ll find that as shock dies down and the reality sets in, the real sense of loss will start to build,” he said.

“As police investigate if it was deliberately lit, people will be dealing with a bit of anger as well. We will really need to help one another through this time.”

Father Hodson said the Sunday service would likely move to St Martin’s Church in Perthville “until such a time when we are able to gain access to the hall”.

Bathurst Anglican Diocese Bishop Ian Palmer said the local clergy would be meeting tomorrow to discuss the destruction.

“I’ll be sitting down with Father James and the rest of the clergy and we will be working out a way forward so that community here is taken care of,” he said.

Bishop Palmer said it was too early to speculate about the future of St Barnabas’.

“We have informed our insurers about the incident, but we have not even had the proper discussions with them yet,” he said.

Catholic Bishop of Bathurst Michael McKenna expressed his condolences to the Anglican community yesterday.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the congregation of St Barnabas’ Church, and all our Anglican friends, who have lost a place of worship that has gathered them for over 130 years,” he said.

He said it was a loss for all of Bathurst.

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