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RCMP open arson investigation after former rectory destroyed by fire in southwest N.S.

Police and fire services responded to report a structure fire at 1:30 a.m. in St. Bernard, N.S., on Sunday. (Winni Payment-Blinn - image credit)
Police and fire services responded to report a structure fire at 1:30 a.m. in St. Bernard, N.S., on Sunday. (Winni Payment-Blinn - image credit)

Meteghan RCMP have opened an arson investigation after a fire destroyed the residence next to a former church in southwestern Nova Scotia.

Police and fire services responded to report of a structure fire at 1:30 a.m. in St. Bernard, N.S., on Sunday, according to a statement from RCMP.

Upon arrival, officers learned the building next to the former Saint-Bernard Catholic Church was engulfed in flames. Police say the residence was vacant at the time.

The former rectory, where the priest would have lived, was sold by the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth to a private owner in 2022.

The church was deconsecrated the following year and purchased by Nation Prospère Acadie and la Société Héritage Saint-Bernard.

The former church was not damaged.

"The embers … landed on the roof, but luckily the roof was wet from all the rain so it put them out," said Jean LeBlanc, president of the historical society.

The smell of smoke was strong in the former church on Sunday, LeBlanc said.

There was no damage reported at the former Saint-Bernard Catholic Church following a blaze in the rectory next door.
There was no damage reported at the former Saint-Bernard Catholic Church following a blaze in the rectory next door.

There was no damage reported at the former Saint-Bernard Catholic Church following a blaze in the rectory next door. (Winni Payment-Blinn)

LeBlanc said the former rectory was built more than 70 years ago. He said the first priest began living in the stone-clad building in January 1952.

"It's sad to lose it because it's the local people who paid for it," LeBlanc said. "It was quite unique the way it was built because … it had a flat roof and most of the buildings around here don't."

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