Image: Ronald De Jong/Twitter

A fiery blaze has ripped through the Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Geboortekerk (Church of Our Lady) in South Holland, causing the steeple to collapse. Houses and schools in the surrounding areas have been evacuated away from the smoke and danger.

The church, which has stood in the village of Hoogmade since 1877, reportedly began burning around 12:40 this afternoon. Around three hours after the initial blaze broke out, the spire of the church fell to the ground.

The fire brigade has had to give up on attempting to save any parts of the church, and have instead concentrated their efforts on preventing the spread of fire to neighbouring houses and buildings.

How did the Hoogmade church fire begin?

RTL Nieuws reports that the fire began after some repair work required old paint to be burned. It is unknown how the fire got out of hand so quickly and with a devastating effect.

How has the community responded?

The Hoogmade community is in shock at today’s events. One resident, who lives nearby the church, told RTL Nieuws they think the fire will be a blow to many residents. “It is a special church, especially because of its towers. They tower above the village.”

Local restaurant owner, Sandra Sierat, told NOS fire will be a major blow for the area. “It is very radical for the entire community. The church is very important for everyone, it is a Roman Catholic village.”

Residents of Hoogmade received an emergency message this afternoon from NL Alert. It advised residents to keep doors and windows closed due to the large amounts of smoke pouring out of the burning church.

Feature Image: Ronald De Jong/Twitter

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