Canadian officials reportedly remain unsure if the church burnings were to be considered arson despite surveillance video showing a hooded woman setting the door on fire.
The Blaze said Surrey Fire Service Assistant Chief Shelley Morris said the cause of the fire that totally burned the St. George Coptic Orthodox Church in British Columbia on Monday morning is still "unknown" despite a surveillance video five days earlier revealing an attempted arson on it.
"We don't know the cause at this time. We'll be investigating later today once we fully douse the fire," Morris said in an interview with CTV News.
While Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Elenore Sturko disclosed with CTV News in a separate interview that "there is no indication that these two incidents are linked", pertaining to the early surveillance video and the actual burning of the church.
"We will be investigating both of these incidents separately," Sturko said.
CTV Video Journalist Regan Hasegawa reported in Twitter on July 19 that one of the church members provided their network the surveillance video that showed a woman in a black hoodie with a sling bag standing in front of the church's main door while lighting it up. The woman left the scene casually after trying to light up the ornaments on the church's door. Hasegawa disclosed that "fire officials say it's too early to confirm whether today's fire is indeed arson."
Surveillance video provided to @CTVVancouver by one of the church members shows a woman lighting the front door of the church on fire last week. Fire officials say it’s too early to confirm whether today’s fire is indeed arson. https://t.co/SDRi2hvKqY pic.twitter.com/vNRNUeQITE
— Regan Hasegawa (@rhasegawaCTV) July 19, 2021
In a succeeding tweet, Hasegawa announced that the local authorities have confirmed the video did show there was an "attempted arson" at the Church last Wednesday but it is still "too early" to confirm if it is connected with the actual fire that burned the church. Hasegawa also revealed that authorities are "looking for this suspect," the woman in the black hood.
The St. George Coptic Orthodox Church broke out in flames before 4 a.m. last Monday that was upgraded to a level three fire alarm. The firemen came at the time when flames were already engulfing it. No one was reported hurt by the fire.
Parishioners believe the fire was deliberate and is connected to the string of church burnings happening in Canada. There are a total of 45 churches in Canada that have been either vandalized or burned in a span of weeks after news of the unmarked graves of Indigenous children were discovered in Catholic schools. 17 of the said 45 churches were specifically targeted by arsonists.
The said burnt churches were historical ones and had existed in Canada for more than a century. Of those burnt down already, there is the Sacred Heart church in Penticton Indian Band, the St. Gregory's church in Osoyoos Indian Band, the St. Ann's Church in Upper Similkameen Indian Band, and the Chopaka Church in Lower Similkameen Indian Band.
Rebel News Canada Founder Ezra Levant likened the string of church burning to that of the 1930s' violence inflicted by the Nazis against Jews called "Kristallnacht" since it is being done "systematically."
Early this month, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association was bashed for urging Canadians to "burn" more churches in line with the unmarked graves of indigenous children found in church-run schools.