Last night, a huge fire gutted Grade II listed The Church of the Ascension in Lower Broughton, as six fire engines and two aerial appliances battled to save the building, built in 1869.
This morning, fire crews were still at the scene damping down the interior of the church, while National Grid gas workers tried to isolate a live gas main still burning inside, and a council building control officer and demolition company assessed the structural damage.
"Our main concern is the high unsupported gable ends" Watch Manager, Andy Simister of Manchester Central Fire Station, told the Salford Star "Our main priority is public and fire officer safety but we're talking about making these gable ends safe. I understand that there's been hundreds of thousands of pounds spent on the roof and it's a crying shame that this has happened to it."
Asked if the building could be saved he said "Hopefully, yes..."
While the fire seems more likely to be an accident rather than arson, fire chiefs are not ruling anything out... "We've got our fire investigation team on site carrying out an investigation" Andy Simister explained "We're trying to come up with the cause."
The Church of the Ascension is one of the only original buildings left in Lower Broughton in the midst of the ongoing regeneration of the area that has seen every house around it flattened. It was the centre of the community and centre for Salford's first food bank (see here).
This morning Broughton Councillor Jim King said "I'm very sad to hear of the loss of Ascension Church, it will be much missed for its community work."
Update: 14th February: Demolition crews stand by and community JustGiving Fund launched - click here