New Hazelton RCMP are investigating a suspicious fire that destroyed an abandoned Gitwangak church on Canada Day.
Police were first alerted to the fire at around 10:30 p.m., and by the time they arrived at St. Paul’s Anglican Church — located on Church Road on Gitwangak Indian Band land — the structure was almost completely destroyed. The fire also caused extensive damage to an adjacent community hall.
“Investigators have been in contact with several devastated community members who watched their beloved church completely destroyed,” said BC RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Chris Manseau in a media release.
“This church has been on the in the community for over 100 years and was previously used for marriages, baptisms and funerals, however it was vacant and was not currently used by the community.”
The destruction of the church comes after a suspicious June 26 fire which caused minimal damage to its entrance. The RCMP are continuing to investigate that incident, and members of the Terrace General Investigative Section are on their way to Gitwangak to assist. Gitwangak is located halfway between Terrace and the Hazeltons.
New Hazelton RCMP are asking anyone that has any information to contact the New Hazelton detachment at 250-842-5244.
Also, Wednesday morning, a Catholic church in northern Alberta was destroyed by what RCMP called a suspicious fire.
Four small Catholic churches on Indigenous lands in southern British Columbia have been destroyed by suspicious fires, and police are investigating a fire that damaged the Catholic church in a First Nations community north of Halifax.
-With Files from the Canadian Press