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.

Just Posted

Transport truck driver identified as one victim in double fatal head-on crash

Clifford Bishop, 54, a resident of Cassidy, had been a truck driver since he was 18

Volunteers needed for Sunday’s Festival of Lights takedown

Volunteers asked to meet at the 49th Parallel Grocery upper parking lot at 9 a.m.

Editorial: Need to look at more than just emergency Malahat bypass

We favour options that offer regular alternatives, not just a crash bypass.

Weather takes wind out of the sails of Ladysmith’s first fun sail

Lack of wind made it hard to complete first Ladysmith Maritime Society fun sail of the year

UK lawmakers reject Brexit deal in 432-202 vote

House of Commons votes against the deal struck between Britain’s government and the EU

Millennial Money: Don’t let Instagram envy get you into debt

A full 48 per cent of U.S. households have credit card debt

Jury debates fate of man accused of killing 12-year-old B.C. girl 40 years ago

Police allege Garry Handlen told a cop how he abducted, sexually assaulted and strangled Monica Jack in May 1978

Investigating change to B.C.’s licence and quota system

MP Ken Hardie hears from fish harvesters how corporations are favoured under current regime

Letters on way to all homeowners in B.C. speculation tax communities

Property owners have to register to avoid vacant-home tax

New orca calf in Salish Sea ‘healthy and active’

Birth cause for celebration but things still dire genetically, expert says

UPDATE: One person confirmed dead in Port Alberni motor vehicle accident

Rural residential road remains closed as RCMP, coroner investigate

Good Samaritan rescues cat found in heaps of garbage at B.C. landfill

The cat was abandoned and left to die at the Foothills Boulevard Regional Landfill, the BC SPCA says

Most Read