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Man charged with arson following four downtown fires last night

Fires occurred at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church on Owen Street, followed by incidents on Collier Street and Dunlop Street West

A 37-year-old man has been arrested after a string of arsons last night in downtown Barrie.

Barrie Fire received a call around 10 p.m., Sunday, about an exterior fire at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, however officials say the call was soon upgraded as smoke had filled the Owen Street building. 

Barrie Deputy Fire Chief Ed Davis told BarrieToday that “entry crews encountered a fire in the lower level, which they quickly brought under control.”

“At the height of the fire, there were five fire apparatus, including the platoon chief," he added. "It is currently under investigation by our fire investigator and will continue over the next couple of days."

While that fire was occurring, a Barrie police officer was on general patrol passing by the church. Additional officers attended and provided traffic-related assistance while the blaze was being extinguished.

A second fire call was then received at 11:08 p.m., in the stairwell of a parking lot at 90 Collier St. 

Then, at 11:36 p.m., a third call came in for garbage cans that were on fire between 27-29 Dunlop St. W. These fires were put out by local business owners who used fire extinguishers, but the damage to the garbage cans was significant.

Barrie police began a search for a suspect who was identified through the investigation. 

While doing so, a fourth fire was located just before midnight in a pile of discarded garbage bags near 101 Dunlop St. W. This fire was small and was extinguished by the police.

At 12:42 a.m., Monday, police located the suspect.

Lance Freeman, 37, of no fixed address, was arrested and charged with three counts of arson and failure to comply with probation order. He was held in custody and is scheduled to appear by video for a bail hearing later today.