AN ARSONIST is believed to have started a blaze in a Christmas crib at St. Patrick's Church, Wicklow Town.
Gardai are examining CCTV footage which seems to indicate that the fire, which badly damaged parts of the church, was started on purpose.
Three fire units attended the scene after they were alerted to the blaze just after 2 p.m. on Thursday. It appears the fire started in the Christmas crib.
Firefighters managed to contain the blaze and Gardai sealed off the scene for a technical examination of the area. THE CRIB was completely destroyed, while the Sacred Heart altar was badly damaged. Carpets were badly burnt, while the inside of the church also suffered extensive smoke damage.
CCTV footage from inside the church is being viewed by Gardai. In particular they are interested in a woman who is captured on camera approaching the crib on two occasions just before the fire took hold.
Cllr. Gail Dunne, says the fire outbreak is extremely 'worrying' if it proves to have been intentionally started.
'For something to like this to happen at this time of year is unspeakable. It really does make you wonder if anything is sacred anymore.
'St. Patrick's Church is central to so many people's Christmas celebrations.
' The crib is also hugely popular. I know lots of local school children love go into the church to visit the crib, my own kids included.' It is still hoped to have the church open again for mass on Saturday evening.