A historic church has inexplicably burned down in Central Texas ahead of a planned celebration marking the 125th anniversary of its construction.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Texas Fire Marshal are now investigating the blaze which destroyed the Catholic Church of the Visitation in Westphalia, TX.
“The congregation was in the midst of planning for the celebration of the 125th anniversary of completion of the church building when the fire broke out Monday morning,” KWTX reports, referring to the church as a “Central Texas landmark.”
“Flames overtook the sanctuary, and smoke from the fire could be seen from five miles away.”
Insurance adjusters reportedly place the damage at between $3 million and $4 million.
Authorities are investigating whether criminality is to blame for the blaze, the cause of which is currently unknown.
“(It’s) extremely difficult and painful to be here,” said Joe Vasquez, bishop of the Austin Diocese. “I’m very deeply affected by this and I know the people here are also heartbroken.”
“This architectural beauty is now a loss, and that’s what saddens all of us here.”
Some sources indicate the church was once the largest wooden structure west of the Mississippi River.
In April, the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, was badly damaged in a massive blaze that shocked the observers across the world. More than three months later, no official cause has been determined.
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