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Catholic church in Arizona “completely destroyed” in fire

St. William Catholic Church in Cashion, Arizona, was destroyed in an overnight fire on May 1. The fire broke out just before 1 a.m. Local station Fox 10 Phoenix reported that firefighters arrived and discovered flames coming from the church's attic. As firefighters battled the flames, the roof of the church eventually collapsed.

“This is a devastating loss for this community,” said Steve Mayhew, chief of the Avondale Fire Battalion. “This church is a pillar of this community, so this morning was definitely very sad.”

“I also run the food pantry here at St. Williams – that's gone,” Gonzalo Ortiz, a parishioner, told Fox 10. “So now we have to somehow get food for all these people. That’s what we do.” We’re going to need a lot of prayers.

Father Andres Arango, parish priest at St. William, wrote on the parish website: “As many of you know, there was a major fire on campus very early this morning and it appears that the church has been completely destroyed . Luckily no one was hurt. “Everyone is safe.”

“An official investigation into the cause of the fire is being conducted by local officials,” he added. “The campus is closed during this investigation.”

He wrote that “plans are currently being developed for a location for future fairs.”

Brett Meister, communications director for the Diocese of Phoenix, told the Arizona Republic that insurance would determine the extent of the damage. “It's pretty obvious. The church, classrooms and community center are virtually beyond repair,” he said, adding that no foul play appeared to be the cause of the fire.

According to the parish's website, St. William was founded 50 years ago and has “moved several times over the last 50 years.” Currently located in Cashion, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix, St. William “is the mother parish of the Santa Maria de Guadalupe Mission,” its website says.

Anna Harden

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