Police suspect that a fire at the Old Church in the centre of Hyvinkää, a municipality located about 50 kilometres north of Helsinki, was started deliberately.
"Based on our preliminary investigation, there is reason to suspect that the fire was intentionally ignited," said Crime Commissioner Leif Malmberg of the Eastern Uusimaa Police Department. "The case is currently being investigated as an act of arson."
Malmberg added that as the investigation is currently ongoing, the police cannot yet provide any further details, but that no natural cause for the fire was found.
"This was based on a technical investigation which has given us reason to suspect that the fire was intentionally started. There are no suspects at this stage," Malmberg said.
The police have asked for the public's assistance in investigating the incident.
Passerby raised alarm
At approximately 2.30am on Friday, a passerby noticed a fire in a storage building behind the church and alerted authorities.
When the Central Uusimaa Rescue Service arrived, the 30-square-metre warehouse was fully aflame. The storage unit contained gardening tools and supplies, said on-duty firefighter Harry Häyrinen, and the warehouse and all of the supplies were completely destroyed by the fire.
A blaze was also noticed to have started in the window frame of a 19th century log building, but firefighters were able to extinguish it before it spread.
"The window was open, and there was hemp being used as insulation. Some smoke had got in, but it has now been ventilated," Häyrinen explained.
The warehouse is about 15 metres away from the Old Church, and the log building is about 25 metres away.
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Häyrinen therefore believes it is unlikely that the fire at the log building would come from sparks that had flown from the storage building.
There was no reported injuries caused by the fire.
Hyvinkää Old Church is a log building originally built as a prayer room in 1896, based on the designs of renowned Finnish architect Yrjö Sadeniemi. The prayer room was enlarged in 1923 by master builder Heikki Siikonen, and the building was consecrated in 1978.
According to the Hyvinkää parish website, the Old Church is a popular location for weddings.