A wooden church from the 1700s was completely destroyed in a fierce fire in Finland.
- The tower falls, said Anton Hagman, who was in place outside the church.
One person has been arrested on suspicion of having started the fire.
- The man has in the initial interrogation, confessed to setting fire to the church, said policeman Mikko Vuorio, to Swedish YLE.
The church, between Vasa and Uleåborg, in Norra Österbotten, dates back to the late 1700s. On Easter Saturday it went up in flames.
The church began to burn violently at half past eight in the evening, when the emergency services were alerted.
The church building was soon completely surrounded by flames. According to witnesses, the fire spread explosively. The roof caved in. Police say the fire was arson.
The flames broke out all over the church and the church tower collapsed, says a witness.
- The tower falls. It burns very hard. It is tragic that the church is burning, said Anton Hagman.
A large crowd gathered outside to witness the tragedy.
Priest Timo Määttä says the church was empty when the fire started. No people were inside the church, according to Hufvudstadsbladet referring to the Finnish news agency STT.
However, an Easter night mass had been scheduled at 23 o'clock on Saturday night. Now it is unclear how the parish will continue its Easter ceremonies.
- We must of course think about the future, but right now thinking is confusing, said Timo Määttä.
The church was built of wood in 1786, but it was restored and got its present appearance in 1892. It is located next to the health center in the center of Ylivieska, but no patients had to be evacuated, according to Swedish Yle.
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