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Fire at Saint Mary's Immaculate Church in Fountain City

Smoke billows from a side entrance to Saint Mary's Immaculate Conception Church in Fountain City Wednesday morning as firefighters work to contain the fire.

FOUNTAIN CITY — Saint Mary’s Immaculate Conception Church is closed after a fire Wednesday morning.

Buffalo County Sheriff Michael Schmidtknecht said a priest reported the fire at approximately 9:50 a.m.

The Fountain City Fire Department, located across the street from the church, immediately sent firefighters to the scene. They were soon joined by other departments and emergency personnel, including the Winona Fire Department and the Buffalo County Sheriff’s Department.

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Firefighers work to contain blaze at Saint Mary's Immaculate Conception Church in Fountain City

Fountain City Fire Chief Tom Hentges, third from right, directs firefighters working to extinguish a fire at the Saint Mary's Immaculate Conception Church in Fountain City Wednesday morning.

Tom Hentges, Fountain City’s fire chief, said the fire appears to have started in the church basement. It caused extensive smoke damage throughout the building, he said.

Law enforcement set up roadblocks on Main, Hill and Liberty streets while firefighters worked to contain the blaze. Black smoke could be seen pouring out of a door on the church’s south side.

By roughly 11 a.m., the fire had been extinguished.

While the cause of the fire is under investigation, Schmidtknecht said it appears to be of “suspicious origin.”

“We’re trying to find out what went on, whether there was any foul play involved,“ he said. “Right now, we can’t say for sure.”

Schmidtknecht said the church was empty when the fire broke out. No one was injured.

Kyle Farris can be reached at kyle.farris@winonadailynews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Kyle_Farris.

Tobias Mann can be reached at tobias.mann@winonadailynews.com

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