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RCMP scrutinize suspicious church fire in northwest B.C. for any links to Okanagan blazes

St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Gitwangak remains intact after June 26 suspicious fire
A fire caused some damage to the entrance of St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Gitwangak Indian Band land on June 26, 2021. Police say the fire is suspicious. (Facebook/Gitwangak Band Office)

New Hazelton RCMP are investigating a suspicious fire at an abandoned Gitwangak church that took place on Saturday, June 26.

According to an RCMP media release, police attended the scene on Church Road on Gitwangak Indian Band land at around 1:15 a.m. after receiving a call that there was a fire in the entrance of St. Paul’s Anglican Church, which is abandoned and not used by the community. Gitwangak is located halfway between Terrace and the Hazeltons.

The church sustained minimal damage and remains intact, and there were no reports of injuries.

The fire comes as two churches burned to the ground on reserve land in the Similkameen Valley early on Saturday morning, and two others were reduced to rubble and ash on Penticton Indian Band and Osoyoos Indian Band land during the morning of June 21.

“The RCMP are treating this fire as suspicious and are looking to determine what, if any, connection there may be to the recent church fires in the South Okanagan, within First Nation communities,” said Staff Sergeant Darren Durnin, the officer in command of the New Hazelton RCMP detachment.

Police are asking anyone that has any information about the fire to contact the New Hazelton detachment at 250-842-5244.

READ MORE: RCMP investigating suspicious fires that burned 2 South Okanagan churches

READ MORE: Two churches on First Nation land in South Okanagan burn to the ground