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

Officials looking for answers after Abbotsford football star found dead in Sask. lake

Saskatchewan Health Authority looking into circumstances surrounding Samwel Uko’s hospital visit

Abbotsford’s ‘virtual’ Canada Day event includes pet parade and entertainment

Month-long celebration also features cultural and family activities

Envision Financial, Coast Abbotsford team up for health care workers

Pair of organizations partner to provide free and discounted rooms for local workers during COVID-19

Potential for gravel removal this summer in Chilliwack has riled river stewards

Group says no ‘discernible merit’ for gravel mining when balanced off with the environmental damage

Gabriel Klein’s sentencing delayed until September

Man convicted of killing Abbotsford high school student Letisha Reimer was set for June

B.C. records no new COVID-19 deaths for the first time in weeks

Good news comes despite 11 new test-positive cases in B.C. in the past 24 hours

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

BREAKING: Gabby’s Country Cabaret in Langley announces ‘heartbreaking’ permanent closure

Owner Steve Gallagher ‘holds out hope’ of a new future for the 35-year-old nightlife establishment

BC Corrections to expand list of eligible offenders for early release during pandemic

Non-violent offenders are being considered for early release through risk assessment process

Fraser Valley driver featured on ‘Highway Thru Hell’ TV show dies

Monkhouse died Sunday night of a heartattack, Jamie Davis towing confirmed

B.C. visitor centres get help with COVID-19 prevention measures

Destination B.C. gearing up for local, in-province tourism

Most Read