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MANSONVILLE, QUE - One of the three active churches in Potton Township was seriously damaged Wednesday morning after a fire broke out in its steeple. Around 8:30 a.m., a passerby happened to notice smoke billowing out of the steeple of the St-Cajetan Catholic Church, which was rebuilt following a fire in 1950. The passerby called the local fire department.
The church is on Principale Street.
Firefighters responded from departments in Mansonville, Magog and Austin, Que., and from Troy, North Troy, Jay and Newport, VT. According to Richard Wells, Assistant Fire Chief for North Troy who called for backup, Troy, Jay and Newport were called in to lend assistance with tower trucks, which were needed to reach the steeple. Wells said 50 U.S. firefighters responded with seven trucks.
According to reports, Priest Charles Doyon looked on as firefighters focused their attention in the steeple, which had a new bell system installed a few years ago. Water poured down from the steeple onto the church and caused heavy interior water damage. Eventually, firefighters had to force the collapse of the steeple for safety reasons.
No one was injured during the fire.
Two nearby daycare centers were evacuated and the streets were blocked off from the Shell gas station near Otis Mcneil Street to the town hall on Vale Perkins Street. Residents who gathered to watch events unfold were kept back from the scene.
For over 60 years, the church, a valuable part of the close-knit community, welcomed parishioners for Sunday Mass and for engagement parties, wedding receptions, baby showers and other important milestones in the community hall, which is located in the basement.
While the situation had quieted down by late afternoon, the full extent of the damage is not yet known.