Church hit by fire

Holy smoke: Residents Kerry Cook, Don Young, Judy Belecky, Hugh Brown, Janet Sutherland, Robynne Kelly and Franz Belecky are dismayed at the damage caused.
Holy smoke: Residents Kerry Cook, Don Young, Judy Belecky, Hugh Brown, Janet Sutherland, Robynne Kelly and Franz Belecky are dismayed at the damage caused.

The small community of Hobby’s Yard are angry that their 77 year old St Peter’s Uniting Church was the target of an arson attack that occurred early in the morning of Friday September 23.

Nearby resident Janet Sutherland said that she could smell smoke at around 8am on Friday and as she passed the church she soon discovered where it was coming from.

“I could see the broken windows and the smoke coming out,” she said, “I went in to check and I found the fire there just smouldering away.”

Ms Sutherland then called the local members of the RFS who attended and quickly put the fire out.

St Peter's Uniting Church in Hobby's Yard has been substantially damaged by a fire on Friday morning.

St Peter's Uniting Church in Hobby's Yard has been substantially damaged by a fire on Friday morning.

Thankfully for the members of the parish the damp conditions on Friday morning seem to have hampered the spread of the fire, despite the culprit piling valuable items of furniture onto the altar before setting them alight.

“There were five hand-carved elder chairs, the organist’s chair and the baptismal font all stacked along with the communal table and set alight,” she said. “It burnt a hole in the altar and the smoke and heat has caused substantial damage.”

Those items that were burnt had special meaning to the congregation.

“They were all items that were donated by past parishioners, and some had come from the old church,” Ms Sutherland said. “Estimates are that the damage is well over $100,000.”

Bathurst police said that investigations were continuing into the matter.