UPDATE #2: On Tuesday, two men were charged in connection with the fire. High Prairie residents 56-year-old Kenneth Ferguson and 50-year-old Gerald Capot are both charged with break and enter to commit theft as well as arson.
The two remain in police custody with a court date set for May 29th in High Prairie. The RCMP says it won’t be releasing further details.
UPDATE: The Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan has released a statement on the fire, saying it is deeply saddened by the loss of the 121-year old church, noting it is one of the oldest in the archdiocese.
“Our prayers are with the people of Grouard and surrounding communities, who have lost not only their place of worship, but a landmark of their community. Many weddings, funerals and cherished memories were honoured there.”
According to the archdiocese, the church was built in 1902 and contained many historic and unique items, including paintings by the first missionary bishop of the region.
An investigation is underway into a fire at church in Grouard. According to reports on social media, it happened at the St. Bernard Catholic Church Monday afternoon.
High Prairie RCMP says it was called at 3:30 p.m. to help the local fire department. No injuries have been reported.
So far, it’s reported the preliminary investigation indicates the fire is suspicious in nature, but no further details have been given. Work is now underway to identify a suspect or suspects.
“It is early on in the investigation, and RCMP are not yet able to identify the motivation of this offence.”
Any community members in the area are asked to look at footage from their doorbell cameras, outdoor security cameras, or dash cameras from around 3 p.m. Monday and to submit anything that might help police.