Muirhouse church fire: Police hunt for youths

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Police investigating a suspicious fire at St Paul’s Church in Muirhouse last night are keen to trace a group of youths seen in the area shortly before the incident.

Witnesses are being urged to come forward after the blaze, which broke out at around 9.20pm and gutted the former church.

St Paul's Chapel in Muirhouse is destroyed by fire. Picture: Scott Taylor

St Paul's Chapel in Muirhouse is destroyed by fire. Picture: Scott Taylor

Detectives say a number of youths were seen near the building less than an hour before the fire.

Pennywell Road and Muirhouse Avenue were temporarily closed but have now reopened.

A part of the pavement on Muirhouse Avenue will remain cordoned off while the safety of the building has been assessed.

The church was closed last month by the Catholic Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh despite a campaign to save it.

St Paul's Chapel before the fire. Picture: Comp

St Paul's Chapel before the fire. Picture: Comp

Inspector Alan Carson said: “This was an appalling attack on a religious building which, despite its closure, was still of importance to the local community in Muirhouse. It was a reckless act which could well have resulted in serious injury or worse.

“We are eager to talk to anyone who may have witnessed anything suspicious around the church on Sunday night.

“We are particularly keen to trace a group of youths who were seen near the church less than an hour before the fire was reported. Tracing these young people would significantly help us with our enquiries.

“Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact Police Scotland immediately on 101 or through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”