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Church arson in northern Alberta under investigation: RCMP

Alberta RCMP, RCMP
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EDMONTON -

RCMP say a fire that significantly damaged the Little Flower Mission Church in Fox Lake, Alta., was "deliberately set."

According to RCMP, emergency crews responded after 10 p.m. Saturday to a complaint of a fire at the church.

In a statement, Mounties said smoke was observed coming from the interior of the structure as they arrived on scene.

The Fox Lake Volunteer Fire Department was able to extinguish the fire.

“The building is still standing but sustained significant damage to the interior,” RCMP said. “A fire investigator attended the scene and was able to determine that the fire was deliberately set.”

Investigation into the incident continues, RCMP add.

Rev. Gerard Pettipas, the archbishop of Grouard-McLennan, that the interior of the building was "badly burned" and the outer structure may be too comrpomised to save. 

"The people of Fox Lake community are very devout in their Catholicism, and so I know they feel this loss very deeply," he said. 

Several churches in Alberta and British Columbia have been vandalized and damaged or destroyed by fire in the wake of discoveries of unmarked graves near former residential school sites in Saskatchewan and in Kamloops, B.C.

Anyone with information about the fire is asked to contact Fox Lake RCMP at 780-659-2080 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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