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Police bust Barrie man accused of setting series of fires

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Police have a 37-year-old Barrie man in custody after fire crews were called to multiple blazes in just a matter of hours.

The first fire was noticed by an officer on patrol at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church on Sunday night. Just over an hour later, a second and third fire had been called in in the area.

"We don't see this happen too often anywhere. From time to time, obviously, Barrie Fire responds to residential structure fires, and again, those could be accidental in nature. These were cases where these were intentionally set by an individual," said Peter Leon of Barrie Police.

Members of the church have been left devastated by the destruction which was contained to a portion of the building.

"The St.Andrews family is such an important part of Barrie, and the timing just breaks your heart," said the church's communications coordinator, Laurie Watt.

The interior of the church room that caught fire is now left covered in ashes.

"It was quickly extinguished after 15 or 20 minutes, but because of the age of the building and the structure, the upgraded alarm just brought in more personnel because churches with the construction they are generally a loss," explained Barrie Fire Deputy Chief Ed Davis.

“It was in that room that we decided we would sponsor a family from Syria and help them settle and build a life here,” added Watt.

The second fire call came in at 11:08 p.m. regarding an active fire reported in a stairwell of a parking lot located at 90 Collier Street.

Then at 11:36 p.m., there was a third call about several garbage cans on fire between 27-29 Dunlop Street West, which local business owners extinguished.

While doing so, a fourth fire was located just before midnight in a pile of discarded garbage bags near 101 Dunlop Street West.

During the rash of fires, police began searching for the suspected arsonist before making an arrest at 12:42 a.m.

The accused has been charged with three counts of arson and a violation of probation.

He is being held in custody and appeared for a bail hearing by video Monday.

With files from CTV's Cheryl Browne

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