RCMP in Morinville, Alta., are working to determine what sparked a fire Wednesday at a historic Catholic church and say they are treating it as suspicious.
St. Jean Baptiste Parish church went up in flames in the early morning hours — emergency crews were called to the building at the center of town around 3:20 a.m.
“The fire was already fully involved from the basement when the first fire crews got here,” said Iain Bushell, general manager of community and infrastructure services with the Town of Morinville.
“They entered the building but there was already collapse occurring on the inside of the church, so they backed out and it’s been a defensive or an exterior firefight ever since.”
The fire gutted the church and caused the evacuation of several nearby homes and businesses, including a senior’s centre. An apartment building next to the church was also evacuated.
RCMP said those who were evacuated are being supported by the Town of Morinville and Sturgeon Victim Services.
Bushell said fire crews were able to keep the fire from spreading to other buildings, but the church is a total loss.