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Two teens charged in Castlegar church arson

Two local teenagers have been charged in connection with two Castlegar fires, including one that destroyed a large portion of St. Rita’s Catholic Church.
Two local teenagers have been charged in connection with two Castlegar fires, including one that destroyed a large portion of St. Rita’s Catholic Church. RCMP Photo

Two teenagers have been charged in connection with two separate fires that partially destroyed a church and torched car in Castlegar last week.

Fire destroyed the main part of St. Rita’s Catholic Church on March 25 and shortly afterwards, a vehicle was found engulfed in flames in the parking lot of the Kinnaird Community Church.

Lee Wilding, 18, and a 16-year-old girl who can’t be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act are facing two counts of arson, Castlegar RCMP said Tuesday. Both are residents of the Kootenay community.

Wilding is scheduled to appear in provincial court Tuesday in Grand Forks. He as been in custody since his arrest on March 28, police said in a news release. The 16-year-old was released from custody with strict bail conditions following her arrest.

“An incident such as this causes fear and unrest within any small community and places tremendous demands on the police to act quickly,” said Insp. Nick Romanchuk of the RCMP Kootenay Boundary regional detachment. “Community co-operation was crucial in advancing the investigation.”

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Police and Castlegar fire officials are still investigating a third fire that destroyed a detached garage on March 28. No one was injured in the three fires.

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