Manchester

Boy, 14, held over Bury church blaze and burglary

Heaton Park Methodist Church Image copyright Google
Image caption Items including a laptop and television were also stolen from Heaton Park Methodist Church

A 14-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of setting fire to a church, leaving it forced to close for Christmas.

Heaton Park Methodist Church in Bury, Greater Manchester, was severely damaged in the blaze two days before Christmas Eve.

Items including a laptop and television were also stolen from the building.

The teenager was arrested on suspicion of arson and burglary, Greater Manchester Police said.

The force has also made a renewed appeal for information.

Ch Insp Phil Spurgeon said the "despicable incident" had "shocked the community".

He added: "There was justifiably a great deal of anger among local people, and the wider public.

"While we now have one person in custody, I'd like to stress that our enquiries remain ongoing, and we'd still encourage people to contact police with any information."

Services moved

The church has since partially reopened and the first service since the blaze is due to take place on Sunday.

Rev Jez Hackett said he had been "overwhelmed" by the response from the community.

"It's just a massive thank you to everyone in the church and the around who have helped out since the fire," he said.

"They have been absolutely fantastic giving up their time and money to help. It's been brilliant."

Rev Hackett also revealed a briefcase containing the organist's sheet music was among the items stolen.

Services were moved to the nearby Prestwich Methodist Church over Christmas while a clean-up took place and repairs were made.

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