Arson suspected in church blaze

Winchmore Church.
Winchmore Church. Photo credit: Google Maps

Fire crews are still unsure how exactly a hedge caught alight just hours after a neighbouring church was completely wiped out.

The 100-year-old Winchmore Church near Ashburton went up in flames at about 11:30pm on Saturday night.

Shift manager Rewai Grace says there was no respite for crews.

"Just after 6:42am this morning we had a report of a hedge fire at the same location, but well away from the church."

Mr Grace says the fires are being treated as suspicious because crews also noticed letterboxes in the area were on fire.

Nobody was hurt in the blazes.