Woman charged with church arson

Last updated 14:03 07/01/2014

Police and fire investigators are at the scene of the fire which gutted the St Philomena's Catholic Church.

Fire at New Plymouth church

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A New Plymouth woman has been arrested and charged with the arson of St Philomena's Catholic Church.

The Fire Service was alerted to the blaze, which was being treated as suspicious, in the Brooklands Rd church at 2.50pm yesterday.

Detective Sergeant Gerard Bouterey confirmed a 59-year-old woman was arrested and charged on Monday night.

''She was found through assistance and information obtained from the public,'' Bouterey said.

The woman, who was known to police, was today released on bail by the New Plymouth District Court to reappear on January 29.

Bouterey said it was pleasing to make a quick arrest in the case.

Father Craig Butler said the blaze had been a real shock to the wider Catholic community.

Messages of support had been received from as far away as the United Kingdom and India, he said.

''We are very grateful for the support of the wider community and just the expressions of concern.''

A prayer service will be held at the church at 5.30pm today.

Yesterday crowds of people lined the street as flames leapt from the church's roof, windows exploded and firefighters battled to bring the blaze under control.

Nicholls said the fire was well alight when firefighters got there.

"Flames were clearly visible from the roof as we arrived," Nicholls said.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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