"There wasn't much we could do to save it."
That was the comment from Raglan Fire Brigade captain Gareth Sutton, who was among the first on the scene of a fire at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses.
The Raglan place of worship, on the corner of the Great Western Highway and Napoleon Street, was totally destroyed by fire in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Emergency services were alerted to the fire at around 3am, with the Kelso Fire and Rescue NSW brigade the first on the scene, followed shortly after by the Raglan Rural Fire Service (RFS).
Personnel from Bathurst Fire and Rescue also attended, along with the Bathurst, Eglinton and Glanmire-Walang RFS crews.
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There were reports of flames as high as five metres above roof height and, according to Mr Sutton, there was no hope of saving the building.
"When we got there we found that the building was fully engulfed on arrival, so we started just cooling it before we did some interior attack, and that continued until about 5.30am and then we went into the clean-up stage," he said.
"... There wasn't much we could do to save it."
Firefighters remained on the scene until the early afternoon to ensure the site was safe.
NSW Ambulance and NSW Police also attended the incident.
Officers from Chifley Police District are continuing to investigate the circumstances that led the fire, however the early indication is that it was no accident.
"It is suspicious. It appears to be deliberately lit at this stage," Inspector Paul McCann said on Saturday.
Police established a crime scene on Saturday, with Bathurst detectives on site to investigate the blaze. They received assistance from Fire and Rescue NSW investigators and detection dogs, and the RFS investigators.
On Sunday, Inspector McCann was still unable to say what caused the devastating fire, but said it was still being treated as suspicious and investigations are continuing.
He confirmed that police are in talks with "several" witnesses as part of that investigation and again called for anyone with information about the fire to get in contact with police.
"If anyone hears of anything or saw anyone around that time, you can contact Bathurst Police or Crime Stoppers," he said.
Police can be reached on 6332 8699, or call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
The local Jehovah's Witnesses congregation hasn't used the kingdom hall for a while due to the pandemic, instead meeting via Zoom.
NSW Jehovah's Witnesses spokesperson Stephen Nicholson said the congregation was saddened by the incident on Saturday.
"I'm pretty sure whoever did it wouldn't have thought they were endangering any life, they just wanted to damage property and be a nuisance of a severe kind," he said.
"It just saddens us that someone would go that far."
Mr Nicholson said they are waiting on the outcome of the police investigation and expect it will be weeks before they can start planning the next steps.
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