A historic church in West Virginia was burned to the ground in what is believed to be an arson attack, authorities said.
The St. Colman Catholic Church, which is located in Shady Spring in Beaver, West Virginia, was burned to the ground on Sunday in a possible arson attack. The historic church building was destroyed by a fire which authorities believe was "suspicious in nature."
Known in the community as "The Little Catholic Church on Irish Mountain," the small white building dates back to between 1877 to 1888 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Catholic News Agency reported.
"Upon arrival we found the structure was already burned to the ground and smoldering," the Beaver Volunteer Fire Department wrote in an update on Facebook. "At this time the fire is considered suspicious in nature and is being investigated as arson."
The Beaver Volunteer Fire Department also shared photos of what remained of the historic West Virginia Church, showing the charred parts of the building. The only structure that remained and was not burned to the ground was the building's concrete steps.
Diocese Expresses Sadness Over Historic Church's Destruction
In an email to CBN News, the Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston said they were " saddened to hear of the devastating fire at the historic St. Colman Catholic Church" and were thankful that no one was hurt in the incident. However, they cited that "the structure is a total loss" as it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places and had not been "regularly used" since it was built back in 1877.
The Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston added that they were "truly grateful" for the fire department's speedy response, but lamented that "the little church burned quickly and nothing can be saved." However, they assured the community that the cemetery behind the church would "continue to be maintained."
According to the report, the historic West Virginia church's original hewn log structure featured "hand hewn sills and joists that rest on the large foundation stones." In 1928, the log structure was covered by large clapboard wood siding that was painted white. The church also features a cemetery behind the building, which was the principal burial ground for the Irish Mountain community. In 1983, the church building and cemetery were named a Raleigh County Historical Landmark.
Historic Churches Burned in Tennessee and Texas
The West Virginia church isn't the only one to have suffered from a burning blaze recently. In June, a historic 120-year old church in Wise County, Texas was burned to the ground. Thankfully, no one was inside the Balsora Baptist Church when it burned, although first responders suffered minor heat-related injuries, CBS News reported. Miraculously, however, a cross and Bibles survived the fire.
Also in June, the Phillips Chapel and Chauncey-Goode Auditorium in Chattanooga, Tennessee was severely damaged by a fire. According to Fox News, a three-alarm fire on June 10 destroyed the historic church buildings and tore down structures. More than 100 people helped put out the fire, which authorities believed was intentional as surveillance footage showed a man on a bicycle in the area at the time of the fire. No one was injured in the church fire.
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