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November 20, 2023

Fire in the Sankt Augustin mission house

A fire in the mission house of the Steyler Missionaries in Sankt Augustin, Germany has caused damage to property, presumably amounting to at least six figures. The fire broke out on the evening of 15 November. Five confreres were slightly injured by smoke fumes and received temporary medical treatment, but were able to leave the hospital.
The fire-fighting work in the wing of the historic building proved difficult because the source of the fire was in the attic on the side of the closed inner courtyard, which was not accessible to fire engines and rescue vehicles. The fire broke out in a common room at around 7.30 pm and was noticed by several confreres who tried to extinguish the fire themselves, but were unsuccessful. They then alerted the fire brigade.
The so-called St Augustine's wing in the southern part of the site is affected. It is directly adjacent to the monastery church, which was not damaged by the fire thanks to a firewall. Most of the confreres were in a house meeting at the time of the fire and were therefore in a place where they could be brought together to safety. Of the approximately 65 confreres living in the mission house, 30 will initially be accommodated in other rooms on the grounds of the convent in Sankt Augustin.
Regarding the cause of the fire, the police have since announced in a separate press release (https://www.presseportal.de/blaulicht/pm/65853/5650650) that the fire was probably caused by a fault in a refrigerator. Fire inspectors and structural engineers are currently examining which safety measures are necessary. Among other things, supports are to be installed on the lower floors to secure the affected wing and the damaged roof. Scaffolding will also have to be erected to secure the roof from the outside and protect the rooms below from weather damage.
Operations at the mission site and the infrastructure are not affected. All institutes of the SVD can continue to work. Services and events in the crypt and the monastery church can also take place.
The religious community would like to thank the 250 or so firefighters and rescue workers who were on site within a short time and prevented the fire from spreading to the extensive library and the church. We would also like to thank all the neighbouring facilities, such as the children's hospital and retirement home, as well as the town of Sankt Augustin, which offered accommodation for the confreres.
(source: https://www.steyler.de/de/aktuelles/meldungen/2023/Brand-im-Missionshaus-Sankt-Augustin.php)

Fr. Vinsensius Gunawan Adi, SVD