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

Chilliwack Chiefs help Team West beat Team East in CJHL Prospects Game

Harrison Blaisdell and Kevin Wall both contributed offensively in a 5-2 triumph.

B.C. dairy farmers say milk cup is half full in new Canada Food Guide

Despite what seems like a demotion, B.C. Dairy Association insists its inclusion is still integral

A history lesson that will leave you howling with laughter in Chilliwack

Comedy duo Hip.Bang! are in Chilliwack to share their knowledge on The History of Romance

Fingerstyle guitarist Shawna Capsi performs at Chilliwack’s Acoustic Emporium

Toronto singer-songwriter Shawna Capsi performs solo, there’s a whole band under her fingertips

Origami-inspired art lights up Chilliwack art gallery

Chilliwack textile sculpture artist Sylvie Roussel-Jannsens presents Whole, a solo exhibition

VIDEO: Here’s what the B.C. legislature officers are accused of buying

Personal trips, purchases, alcohol and more laid out in 76-page report by Plecas

Men allegedly tied to Red Scorpions gang arrested in B.C. drug busts

Nanaimo RCMP have made multiple arrests and seized drugs, weapons and cash

Man pulls over to help injured owl, gets hit by SUV

Chase RCMP say owl flew away while they were on scene

VIDEO: Soon-to-be-extinct caribou moved to B.C. interior

The three caribou are being held in pens north of Revelstoke

B.C. cop who assaulted homeless man may avoid criminal record

Kamloops RCMP Const. Todd Henderson was charged with one count of assault causing bodily harm

Thunderbirds excited to fly over Fraser Valley at Abbotsford airshow

Members of U.S. Air Force aerial performance troupe visited town to scope out the airfield

Four students sent to hospital after school bus crash in Mission

Mission RCMP say hospitalization a precaution, 14 students were on board

5 to start your day

Court hears South Surrey mother ‘never called 911’ after killing daughter, Four students sent to hospital after school bus crash in Mission and more

Most Read