National Post (National Edition) - - CANADA -

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.

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