Fire damage is seen to Blessed Sacrament Parish in downtown Regina, SK. A suspected arsonist attacked the parish Feb. 9, 2024. Photo courtesy Fr. James Hentges

Suspected arsonist damages Regina parish

  • February 12, 2024

A suspected arson struck at Blessed Sacrament Parish in downtown Regina Feb. 9.

Security cameras caught the culprit, who has yet to be apprehended, in the early hours.  

Fr. James Hentges, the pastor of Blessed Sacrament located at 2049 Scarth St. in the city’s centre, told local media he was not in the church at the time, but modern technology alerted him to the fire.

“The alarm went off immediately when it detected smoke,” said Hentges. “My Apple iPods picked up the alarm and alerted me… that there was an alarm going off in my home.”

The 48-second video posted by Hentges to his personal Instagram account (jameshentges) shows a masked perpetrator pouring contents from a jerry can near the front entrance of the church rectory and the parish office. The suspect then made several failed attempts before igniting the contents of the can. The entranceway quickly became shrouded in flames.

According to a news release from Regina Police Service, officers were dispatched around 3:40 a.m. to respond to the blaze after receiving a tip from a passerby. Firefighters were already on site when police arrived.

The pictures provided to The Register show that the outer portion of the door was charred. According to the Archdiocese of Regina, there was some smoke throughout the rectory, but the church itself escaped from harm. 

“Our crews managed to contain the fire to the exterior,” said Gord Hewitt, Regina’s deputy fire chief. “Internally, it was just smoke, which we managed to ventilate (from) the property.”

“The parish is grateful that no one was home at the time and there were no further injuries or damage,” said Deacon Eric Gurash, the Regina Archdiocese’s director of communications and evangelization. “Authorities are investigating the incident, and the church community is grateful for the swift response of the Regina firefighters and the safety measures in place that helped mitigate the situation.”

Hewitt confirmed that his team “have done a thorough investigation, and it was an intentionally set fire.” The fire department is providing details to the Regina Police Service to assist in its probe. 

The damage and cleanup forced Blessed Sacrament to cancel all Masses until Ash Wednesday. 

The parish and the police both seek the public’s help in identifying the suspect. Anyone with tips is encouraged to call 1 (306) 777-6500 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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