A Roman Catholic church that stood in Texas for more than a century mysteriously burned to the ground this week — with insurance adjusters placing the damages at $3 million to $4 million, according to a report.
The 125-year-old Church of the Visitation in Westphalia caught fire Monday morning, just as congregation members were planning a celebration for the anniversary of its completion, sources told KWTX.
Video and photos captured at the scene show the historic house of worship engulfed in flames — with some residents reportedly seeing smoke from as far as five miles away.
“It’s extremely difficult and painful to be here,” Joe Vasquez, bishop of the Austin Diocese, told KWTX on Monday as the church was burning.
“I’m very deeply affected by this and I know the people here are also heartbroken.”
Over 250 residents were said to be part of the Visitation congregation. It’s unclear where they will be gathering in the wake of the fire.
The church said it will be accepting donations to help rebuild.
“This architectural beauty is now a loss,” Vasquez told KWTX, “and that’s what saddens all of us here.”
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the state Fire Marshal’s Office were investigating the blaze Tuesday to see if there was any criminality involved. It was not immediately clear how it started.