CANADA CHURCH BURNINGS: Two Alberta churches torched by suspected arsonists

"Definitely, these are suspicious fires."

On Thursday night, firefighters in Barrhead, Alberta, were called to suspected arson fires at two separate churches about an hour apart from each other. 

Police told Global News that damage to both structures was extreme despite fire teams being able to extinguish the flames quickly. 

Officials said that Glenreagh church, also known as St. Aiden's Church, was heavily damaged, and two brass candleholders and the offering plate were stolen. United Church on Range Road 54, also known as Pioneer Church was destroyed. 

Regional Fire Chief with the Town of Barrhead, Gary Hove told the outlet, "Definitely, these are suspicious fires." He noted, "The building has no utilities connected to it so there’s really nothing to start the fire with other than someone coming along and starting a fire.”

“We were just making sure the fire was out here and then we received the call about the other church on fire,” Hove noted of how close the fires were to each other. “We broke away the engine from this one but left a small crew here. The engine headed to the other fire, which had way more fire involvement.”

He said the United Church "had already collapsed when we arrived on scene." Hove said, "There wasn’t much for us to save, other than just put the fire out.”

In a post on X, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith said, "Images like these have no place in Alberta." She added, "RCMP are investigating two churches which were destroyed by fires as suspected cases of arson. To the parishioners of these churches and to the Christian community across our province, I stand in solidarity with you against all forms of hate."

"These acts are condemned in the strongest possible terms and those perpetrating these crimes must be brought to justice," Smith noted. "I am closely monitoring this unfolding situation along with Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services Mike Ellis." 

Reeve of the County of Barrhead, Doug Drozd told Global, "My reaction is like all of the residents in the County of Barrhead: we’re shocked and appalled by this." He added, "It had a lot of people on edge last night."

"The families that live around here have a clear attachment to these places. It’s a sad day," he said. 

Officials said no one was injured in either fire. They said that an older model two-tone colored truck was seen leaving the Glenreagh Church site, and are asking for anyone with any information to contact police or Crime Stoppers. 
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