05/29/2012 09:50 EDT | Updated 07/29/2012 05:12 EDT

Investigators look for connection between Brampton fires

Police and fire investigators are trying to determine if there is any connection between two early morning fires in Brampton.

A group of townhouses caught fire in a new subdivision off Mississauga Road north of Steeles Avenue, at about 4 a.m.

Two homes under construction were badly damaged in the fire.

A short time later a fire was reported in nearby St. Jerome's Catholic Church at 8530 Chinguacousy Rd.

Sprinklers inside the church put the fire out quickly. But firefighters found a suspicious package inside and asked for help from Peel Regional police who brought their bomb disposal unit to take a look.

Police at first suspected it might be a pipe bomb, but later told CBC News it was a fake, an empty shell that contined no explosive material.

A few hours after it was discovered, the device was removed from church and put in a special holding container. It was then taken to a gravel pit in Caledon where it was detonated.

The Archdiocese of Toronto issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon, advising that the Brampton church would be closed “for at least one week” as a result of the fire.

Parishioners are invited to attend other local Catholic churches while St. Jerome’s is closed.