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Arson in an abandoned church in Belgium

The firefighters of Herentals, a Flemish municipality located near Antwerp, on July 25 prevented the disused Church of Our Lady of Nederrij from being completely destroyed by a fire which seems to have been criminal and which broke out following an intrusion.


“ There was a lot of smoke in the building, ” says Jan Peelaerts, fire brigade captain. “It was the stairs that caught fire. Fortunately, we were able to put out the fire quickly. This church building may be empty, but the risk of a large fire spreading is very real.”

It was also obvious to the firefighters that the fire had not started accidentally. Presumably, a stick surrounded by rags was used to start a fire at height.

“The people who came here also lit a candle and placed it near the old altar,” says Jan Peelaerts. “But let there be no doubt about it. It is certainly not funny. These are serious facts. The arson on the stairs could have had serious consequences.

The building clearly shows traces of vandalism both inside and outside. Just before the fire broke out, young people were reportedly seen in the neighborhood.”

This is the third building fire in the municipality since the start of the year, according to the mayor: “After the fire at the Burchtstraat school in February and the fire in the Stadsveld hangar in in mid-may, this is the third fire this year in an empty building.”


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