One other Canadian church was set on hearth – this one simply outdoors Edmonton

EDMONTON – Police are investigating a “suspicious” fire that destroyed a Roman Catholic church about half an hour outside Edmonton early Wednesday morning – the latest in a series of fires in church buildings across Canada.

RCMP said in a press release that businesses and homes near St. Jean Baptiste Church in Morinville, Alta, had been evacuated and that “the structure was lost in the fire,” to which they responded at around 3:20 am

A video posted on Facebook shows the church on fire and the steeple falling.

Churches have been fired across the country in the past few weeks. There is no evidence of the cause of the recent fire. The fires come as the country expects the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at the sites of indigenous residential schools – sites run by the church – leading to unconfirmed speculation.

Iain Bushell, general manager of Infrastructure and Community Services of Morinville, said the fire was so severe that firefighters could not enter the 114-year-old building and the roof collapsed a short time later.

“The timing is certainly unfortunate as it is a fairly iconic Catholic Church in our community and the timing of the sad events that have just been exposed in the country,” Bushell said.

Four small Catholic churches on indigenous land in rural southern British Columbia were destroyed in suspicious fires and an abandoned former Anglican church in northwest BC was recently damaged in what could be arson, according to the RCMP.

In Nova Scotia, police have also classified a church fire in the Sipekne’katik First Nation as “suspicious” after an early morning fire damaged part of a Roman Catholic church there on Wednesday.

Indian Brook RCMP and local fire departments were dispatched to a fire call at 4:20 a.m. at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Church on the band’s premises, about 40 miles northwest of Halifax, said RCMP spokesman Const. Chris Marshall during an interview. The building also houses the band’s Katilin Healing and Cultural Center.

Earlier this week, RCMP in Gleichen, Alta., East of Calgary, said it was investigating a possible arson attack on the Siksika Catholic Church, which occurred shortly after midnight on Monday, despite being cleared before serious structural damage took place.

“Preliminary investigations suggest unknown people deliberately lit a fire in the Siksika First Nation Catholic Church,” the Mounties said in a press release Tuesday.

With files from Steve McKinley and The Canadian Press



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