Man charged in connection with church fire in Manitoba

A 42-year-old ​man has been charged in connection to a yard fire that got out of control and burned down a 110-year-old church in Starbuck, Manitoba.
The United Church in Starbuck burned to the ground on Friday. (Caroline Barghout/CBC)

A 42-year-old ​man has been charged in connection to a yard fire that got out of control and burned down a 110-year-old church in Starbuck, Manitoba.

When RCMP arrived at the scene Friday afternoon, the United Church was fully engulfed in flames.

The man had been burning leaves and other yard debris in a barrel at a property close to the church. The fire got out of control and ignited the church, police said.

He has been charged under the Wildfires Act and fined $1,297.30.

In addition to the wooden church, the town also lost costumes from a dinner theatre production the community has put on for 25 years.

Members of the church congregation said they forgive the man. Minister Cathy Maxwell said grass fires from burning garbage are part of living in rural Manitoba and accidents happen.

"Folks have just embraced him and he's talked to a number of our members. What I have seen, for the most part, is people putting their arms around him," she said.

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