On Christmas Day morning, a fire broke out in a historic, wooden church in Rautjärvi, in southeast Finland. Hufvudstadsbladet reports:
The 19th-century church in Rautjärvi has been completely destroyed. In addition to the church, a nearby private home was also set afire. … in a press release, police write that a body has been found inside the house.
The fire started during the church service and was reported to the churchgoers by the pastor. An evacuation began immediately. There were no fatalities in the church fire.
It is unclear if there is a connection between the church fire and the dead person in the burned-down private home. A representative of the local fire and rescue service explained that the fire-ravaged church is approximately 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the house where the dead person was found.
According to Hufvudstadsbladet, a joint police and fire-marshal investigation is underway. The formal preliminary suspicion is felony destruction of property. The news story also quotes the Helsingin Sanomat, a major daily Finnish newspaper:
ropes had been tied outside the church door. According to pastor Kari Luumi, they were pulled in such a way that they would make the evacuation of the church more difficult.
Swedish public broadcaster SVT reports that the ropes were not tight enough to impede the evacuation of the approximately 30 people attending the church service.
The wooden church in Rautjärvi was built in 1881 and was one of the largest wooden churches in Finland. It was constructed as a replacement for an earlier church that was destroyed in a fire in 1872.