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Barrie, Ont. church assesses damage after series of weekend fires

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Still reeling after a devastating fire one week ago, the congregation of a Barrie, Ont. church is beginning to pick up the pieces.

St. Andrews Presbyterian Church members were invited to Collier Street United Church on Sunday for prayer service and to provide an update on a fire that happened one week ago.

"the emotion is rather overwhelming for many of us right now," said Laurie Watt, a member of St. Andrews Church. "But, it was important for us to gather together, give each other hugs, and say, 'you know what, we're going to get through this,' and I think that's what today was all about."

Barrie police arrested a 37-year-old man after fire crews were called to multiple blazes in just a matter of hours on Feb. 19.

The accused has been charged with three counts of arson and a violation of probation.

"The insurance and the clean-up teams are in there, and they're doing an assessment on where we are from a structural standpoint," said Mark Hoffman, St. Andrews Church Board of Managers Chair. "We're not talking about tearing down the building, we aren't there yet, but there are rooms where walls will have to come down, and ceilings will need to come down."

Church members say their immediate plans are to determine if they will temporarily pray at Collier United Street Church in the coming weeks.

"Do we continue to worship with them, or do we continue to meet here at a different time," Laurie Watt added.

The Church said it's too soon to know the estimated cost of damage and believes they may not be able to return until the fall. 

With files from CTV's Molly Frommer

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