Pas Ka Poo Park’s administrator Cheryl Jones attributes the quick action of Rimbey’s volunteer fire department with saving a church at the park from going up in flames last Tuesday.
“Thank God for their quick response,” she said. “We are so lucky. It could have gone up so easily and then the rest of the buildings could have gone, too. It would have been a historical catastrophe.”
Jones said she got a call about 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday from the RCMP as they needed a key to get to the church. The RCMP told her there had been a fire at the park and they needed to get inside the church to be certain there had been no damage.
“I raced to the park with my heart in my throat,” she said. “I just panicked.”
However, the firemen had already extinguished a fire in the hay bales beside the church by the time Jones arrived.
“Luckily the ground was still frozen and the fire didn’t spread.”
She said it was difficult to determine how the fire started in the hay bales that night as it was dark. The next day, however, Jones and volunteer Eric Hornsey discovered the work of vandals in the park and they are certain the fire in the bales was not caused by an electrical malfunction.
“Whether they did it deliberately or accidentally, I don’t know,” she said. “But there were people here messing around. They had messed with the nativity scene and (the statue) of Mary was sitting in a truck (at the museum) and a wagon pulled out on the grass. The big polar bear is missing; it is nowhere to be found and an igloo is all smashed up.”
Fire chief John Weisgerber said he suspects the fire was caused by vandals.
“There’s nothing else around there to start a fire,” he said.
He agreed it was fortunate the fire didn’t spread to the church.
“Old dry wood like that would have gone up very quickly.”
Jones said the church was the first building to arrive at the park which will celebrate its 50th anniversary in August.
“It (the park) is a beau- tiful public facility and we want everybody to enjoy it. We are doing everything we can to help people enjoy it and they do come from all over to visit it. It is free and all we ask is that people act responsibly when they come here. We don’t want to have to put everything under lock and key.”