The Murray United Church in Merritt, B.C. (Amrit Samra/unitedchurches.wixsite.com)

Suspicious fire at Merritt church considered possible hate crime

Arson probed in loss of Murray Church, fire at second Merritt church

A nearly 150-year-old church has been destroyed by a suspicious fire in British Columbia’s southern Interior, one of two blazes at Merritt-area churches early Friday.

The historic Murray United Church on Highway 5A in the Nicola Valley was built in 1876.

Merritt Fire Rescue Department Capt. Carl Johnston says the single-room building was engulfed in flames by the time crews arrived and the structure could not be saved.

The Crossroads Community Church in Merritt was also damaged by fires.

READ MORE: Man wanted in ‘apparent hate crime’ involving gay couple on SkyTrain

Johnston says the cause of the fires are under investigation and the RCMP has taken over the files.

The Murray Church is described on its website as the oldest building in the valley and the only building still standing made with local Nicola Valley Lumber.

Const. Tracy Dunsmore says the Crossroads fire is a confirmed arson but officers are still gathering information at the Murray blaze and are appealing for help from the public.

READ MORE: Hate crimes in Canada spiked by nearly 50% last year

“Two churches within an hour and there (are) definite arson signs there, so we are looking for any information,” says Dunsmore.

She says arson to a church is considered to be a hate crime.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Maple Ridge woman fights WorkSafe B.C. over police widow’s pension

Dalila Vroom says husband, Const. Robert Vroom, died as result of PTSD from time with Abbotsford PD

Heavy police presence at Maple Ridge traffic accident

Multiple police seen running into house

UPDATE: Fraser Health declares COVID-19 outbreak over at Maple Ridge seniors residence

All remaining residents and staff have been cleared of the virus at Chartwell’s Willow Retirement Residence

Anonymous donor gives $10,000 to ARMS in Maple Ridge

The Alouette River Management Society has 10,000 chances to win the Great Canadian Giving Challenge

Thousands raised for food bank by caring individuals in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

One family raised $1,100 by making angel keychains and another raised $3,200 by making face masks

B.C. records four new COVID-19 cases, Abbotsford hospital outbreak cleared

Four senior home outbreaks also declared over, eight still active

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping The News to continue its mission to provide trusted local news

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

B.C.’s Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics goes virtual

The annual event partnering RCMP with Special Olympians is dramatically altered by COVID-19

Bateman program encourages people to sketch outside, connect with nature

#MyNatureSketch initiative encourages Canadians to become ‘bright-eyed three year olds’

Be cautious expanding COVID-19 bubble, Dr. Bonnie Henry tells B.C.

Senior homes stay off-limits as schools, businesses reopen

Most Read