One arrested following church fire on Manitoba First Nation

The only church on a northern Manitoba First Nation was destroyed in a fire, and RCMP have arrested a suspect for arson.

St. Theresa Point Roman Catholic Church, approximately 480 kilometres north of Winnipeg, went up in flames shortly after Easter Sunday mass.

“It is a huge loss,” Chief Marie Wood told CTV News.

Wood said she was told by the local fire chief that the church was engulfed in flames before crews arrived on scene.

“People from the community, many crying went to watch the church burn, nothing could be done except for fire crews to secure the area and control the burn.”

There were no injuries in connection to what Wood called a devastating fire. The 65-year-old church was the only one in the community.

“Over the past year, there has been fundraising efforts made to try to start the building of a new church,” said Wood. “The church has had many structural and plumbing issues.”

Wood said the community worked hard to keep the church open despite the need for repairs. She said about $150,000 had been raised so far to go towards the new build.

“We will work together and recover this huge loss and always have faith that things happen for a reason,” said Wood. “Please remember the wonderful memories the building holds forever in our hearts.”

Island Lake RCMP officers responded to the fire around 2:50 p.m. on Sunday.

When Mounties got to the scene, they were told that a suspect was seen leaving the area when the fire started.

Officers arrested a 32-year-old man for arson and took him into custody.

Officers continue to investigate the situation.

- With files from CTV’s Kayla Rosen.