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Adventist headquarters for UK, Ireland nears completion after fire

Employees return to refurbished workplace; construction slated for completion this year

Adventist headquarters for UK, Ireland nears completion after fire

Adventist Church employees in the United Kingdom and Ireland back at work in their newly refurbished office space. In 2008, a fire destroyed much of the building. [photos: Victor Hulbert/British Union Conference]

Administrative offices for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the United Kingdom and Ireland are nearing completion 14 months after a fire gutted previous headquarters.

The final phase of rebuilding -- including a foyer, training rooms, boardroom and additional offices -- is expected to take place within the year, regional church officials said.

The fire started November 16, 2008 in the roof space above the boardroom and quickly spread to 75 percent of the building. Employees moved back into headquarters December 18, 2009, despite ongoing construction.

"People like the new look of the office," said Victor Hulbert, communication director for the Adventist Church in Britain. "They may be sitting in the same room they were in before the fire, but it has been upgraded ... and the windows looking over Stanborough Park give a stunning view."

Hulbert added the new workspace allows employees to "more efficiently fulfill the mission of the church."

While workspace at headquarters is still limited until construction is completed in late summer or early fall, Hulbert said the accommodations are still far superior to the cramped, temporary rental space the staff occupied after the fire.

The construction team will next focus on areas completely demolished by the fire, employees said.

A January cold spell has temporarily halted progress -- the team is currently waiting for the temperature to rise above 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit) before they can continue pouring concrete for the foundations of the remaining work areas.

Hulbert said he was "impressed" with the swiftness of the rebuilding so far and that the weather-related setback would likely not affect its projected completion.

-- Elizabeth Lechleitner contributed to this report