2 churches burn in 'very suspicious' fires in southwestern Ontario

·1 min read

Two southwestern Ontario churches roughly 10 minutes away from each other went up in flames early Sunday morning, prompting an investigation by local and provincial police into "very suspicious" fires.

Shortly after midnight, emergency crews responded to the first fire at South Caradoc United Church on Muncey Road, in Strathroy-Caradoc.

Strathroy-Caradoc Police Service (SCPS) say they found the structure fully engulfed in flames.

SCPS and Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are investigating what caused the fire.

St. Andrew's Anglican Church destroyed

At around 6:15 a.m. — hours after the fire at South Caradoc United Church — emergency crews were called to St. Andrew's Anglican Church on Chippewa Road in Muncey, Ont.

"The fire department worked tirelessly to put that fire out, but unfortunately, the structure has been deemed to be a complete loss," said Middlesex OPP Const. Kevin Howe.

Howe said the fire was deemed suspicious after learning about the first fire.

They're just seven kilometres apart.

"We're still in the preliminary stages of both investigations, so we are following up on all leads, but obviously it is very suspicious that two churches caught on fire in close proximity around the same time," he said, adding that they are also working with SCPS on this fire.

Police are not aware of any injuries from either incident.

"Churches and buildings of worships are centre pieces to the community and at times you can't put a price to that," Howe said. "There's a real emotional impact that's been left on these communities who attend these facilities."

Police have requested the office of the Fire Marshal to help determine the cause of both fires.

Anyone with information related to the incidents can contact Middlesex OPP, SCPC or Crime Stoppers.