A small chapel in northwest British Columbia is ‘extensively’ damaged after a suspicious fire

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A small historic chapel in northern British Columbia was ‘extensively’ damaged after a fire on Friday that investigators consider suspicious

The Usk Pioneer Chapel, located in Usk northeast of Terrace, British Columbia, was built in 1967 along Highway 16. A post on the Terrace Library website says it has been visited by thousands of people over the years.

The Thornhill Fire Department said they were called to the chapel around 6.30am on Friday, and when they arrived noticed there was smoke coming from the roof out back.

“When entering [the] building, it looks like something set fire to the wooden cross, causing structural damage to the back wall and roof,” said Rick Boehm, emergency coordinator for the Kitimat-Stikine Regional District.

The back wall of the Usk Pioneer Chapel was extensively damaged after the April 22 fire. (Chapel of the Pioneers of Usk/Facebook)

“The cause of the fire is still under investigation,” Boehm said. “But, we can report that there are no utilities in this heritage building – so it is suspect at this time.”

A post on the Usk Pioneer Chapel Facebook page said the fire had caused “extensive damage but appears to be repairable” and called the fire a “malicious act of vandalism”.

“Due to its location, fire insurance was not available”, the read message.

Charred remains of the cross located inside the Usk Pioneer Chapel. (Chapel/Fire of the Pioneers of Usk)

Photos posted on Facebook show that the cross inside the chapel was almost destroyed, although some repairs have been made Saturday on the back wall of the chapel.

The Reformed Christian Church in Terrace has set up a donation page to help the chapel management with repairs.

In 1967, the same church raised $820 ($6,859 in 2022 dollars) to specifically build the chapel without heating or other utilities, according to the Terrace Library.

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