The GoFundMe page set up to help St. George Coptic Orthodox Church has a goal of raising $200,000. In just one day, it was able to raise more than $8,000.
“We just opened our church 2 weeks ago after the COVID lockdown had us on zoom for Sunday school, youth, summer activities, etc,” reads the page.
Mounties confirm they are treating the fire at the Whalley church as suspicious.
Crews were called to the church around 3:30 a.m. and arrived to find the building fully engulfed in flames. Despite their efforts, firefighters were not able to save the church.
“Today, for me, is a day of mourning for my church,” said Medhat Elmasry, a board member of the church.
He told NEWS 1130 he had been going to St. George Coptic Orthodox Church for about 25 years.
“It’s catastrophic for me.”
BREAKING: A church in Surrey's Whalley neighbourhood is completely destroyed after a fire broke out this morning. Video courtesy: Daksh Morada Read more: https://t.co/2HJLPBO5w8 pic.twitter.com/BBMhn01MiG
— Claire Fenton (@Ceeceefenton) July 19, 2021
The fire on July 19 came just days after what police have described as an “attempted arson.” That instance left damage to the front door of the building, with police saying the suspect had “lit items on fire at the door” and left.
“It is important to note, that although both of these incidents are suspicious, there is currently no evidence linking these two separate investigations,” Mounties said Monday.
Police are still looking for a suspect in both instances. The person seen on surveillance video on July 14 is described as a 5’7″ tall Caucasian woman with a heavy-set build, and dark hair.
Anyone with information about either of these two cases is asked to contact the Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or www.solvecrime.ca.
-With files from Ben Wilson, Claire Fenton, Martin MacMahon, and Hana Mae Nassar