150-YEAR-OLD CHURCH DESTROYED IN SUSPICIOUS FIRE
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 fire. RCMP Const. Tracy Dunsmore said the Crossroads fire was deliberately set and arson is suspected in the Murray church fire. “Two churches within an hour and there (are) definite arson signs there, so we are looking for any information,” said Dunsmore. Arson to a church is considered to be a hate crime, she said.