The parish hall next to St Columban Cathedral in northern Myitkyina diocese was destroyed by fire early yesterday morning.
The blaze, which eyewitnesses said began at around 3am, quickly engulfed the two-story building, giving firefighters little chance of saving the structure. The cathedral itself was not damaged.
“Smoke was seen coming from inside the building at around at 3am [8:30pm GMT Monday] but by the time firefighters arrived around an hour later the blaze had taken hold,” said Zau Hkawng, an eyewitness.
Two students from the parish were slightly hurt trying to put out the flames, while a fireman was in more serious condition in hospital after suffering burns to the upper part of his body.
On hearing the news Lajawn Ngan Seng, the chief minister of Kachin State, inspected the scene and pledged to provide any necessary assistance to the injured and parishioners.
The exact cause of the fire has yet to be established, but faulty wiring is suspected, since very little repairs had been done on the building since it was built in 1976.
Foul play though has not been ruled out as security services have been on alert around Myitkyina in the wake of a bomb attack on a railway bridge in the area two weeks ago.