Fire damaged a historic church and a neighboring structure early Wednesday in Bend, along with several nearby outbuildings and two vehicles, according to the city Fire Department.
A wing of Trinity Episcopal Church, 469 N.W. Wall St., and its St. Helens Hall, 231 N.W. Idaho Ave, were struck by fire around 2 a.m., according to department spokesman Larry Medina. Another five sheds and garages in the surrounding block and two automobiles were also burned, he said.
A passerby reported the fire at Trinity Episcopal at 2:13 a.m. The roof of the west wing had been opened and blackened by fire; debris littered St. Helens Place. Across the street, St. Helens Hall, roped off by crime scene tape, was off limits to the volunteers who showed up to inspect the damage. The hall, formerly a Lutheran church, houses the Community Counseling Center and The Family Kitchen, a nonprofit that feeds as many as 200 people daily, said program director Cindy Tidball.
”We can't get in the building,” she said. ”There's no gas or electricity.”
The Rev. Roy Green of Trinity Episcopal at the scene said he'd contacted the Red Cross to feed the lunch clients but had heard nothing as of 8 a.m.
Medina said the Fire Department treats the scene as an open investigation. He would not characterize the fires as arson, although a fire captain described the fires as arson while closing off the scene to bystanders. Medina said agents from the department, the Oregon State Police, state fire marshal and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were taking part in the investigation.
A school next to the church, Amity Creek Magnet School, was not affected by the fire or attempts to extinguish it and classes went on as scheduled, said Principal Carol Hammett. Only the school parking lot was closed due to fire debris, she said.