Two more Catholic churches destroyed by fire in South Okanagan

THE Penticton South Okanagan Similkameen RCMP (PSOSRD) are investigating after two more churches were destroyed by fire.

On June 26, at 3:52 a.m., the Princeton RCMP received a call that the St. Ann’s Catholic Church on the Upper Similkameen Indian Band (USIB) lands near the small community of Hedley was on fire.

At 4:45 a.m., the Keremeos RCMP received a call the Chopaka Catholic Church on the Lower Similkameen Indian Band (LSIB) lands at Chopaka was on fire.

Both churches have been destroyed. The fire at the church on the LSIB spread to nearby brush which was quickly extinguished by BC Wildfire crews before it could spread further.

“The PSOSRD RCMP are treating both of these fires as suspicious and are looking to determine any possible connection to the church fires in both Penticton and Oliver on June 21, 2021”, said Sgt. Jason Bayda, Media Relations Officer for the Penticton South Okanagan RCMP. “The investigations into the previous fires and these two new fires are ongoing with no arrests or charges.”

The PSOSRD RCMP said they continue to work with and support their local Indigenous leaders and communities.

Police are asking for anyone who may have witnessed anyone or any vehicle in the area of either church in the early hours of June 26 to contact the Penticton RCMP Detachment at 250-492-4300.