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Fast-moving fire destroys building near Hindu temple

By Ryan Hughes, Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
Published On: Sep 05 2013 04:31:57 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 06 2013 06:12:05 AM CDT

Prayer turned to heartache after a raging fire broke out near a temple in Schuylkill County.

WAYNE TWP., Pa. -

Prayer turned to heartache after a raging fire broke out near a temple in Schuylkill County.

Flames spread fast and destroyed a building near the temple to which nearly 100,000 Hindus from across the country make a pilgrimage every year.

The beautiful VRAJ Temple is built on 300 acres in Wayne Twp., Schuylkill Co. A peaceful Thursday, filled with prayer and worship, was interrupted by fast-moving flames.

"Fire blowing out of the second and third floor and out the windows," said First Asst. Chief Chris Krause, Summit Station Fire Co.

Heavy smoke quickly billowed over top of the building near the temple. The fire drew a major response, including several fire companies from Berks County. Crews battling the 2-alarmer struggled for more than an hour to put it out.

"It was very bad on the top floor, everything was in flames," said Jayesh Bhagat, a volunteer at the temple.

The building where the fire happened is known as Krishna Krupa. The Hindu temple attracts massive crowds, and officials said this weekend, there were about 5,000 people there. Officials were very thankful no one was hurt.

"Luckily, nobody was there and the building is used for overnight stays on weekends when someone is coming for prayer and everything," said Bhagat.

The building's windows were blown out and scraps of wood were hanging from the roof. At first, officials were concerned about a possible explosion with a propane tank sitting right outside. They were also worried about the fire spreading to the building next door. Construction of that building was completed in June.

"I don't know how much loss it's been, but hopefully it will build up fast and we can stay there again," said Bhagat.

Fire may have caused destruction, but officials said their faith will prevail.

Fire investigators are working to determine an exact cause.