A church that has been vacant for about 10 years was completely destroyed during an overnight fire in Point Edward, N.S.

The Cape Breton Regional Police Service says the fire started just before 1:20 a.m. Sunday at the old St. John’s Anglican Church.

Crews were on scene for nearly five hours making sure it didn’t spread to the dry woods.

“Upon arrival, we noticed there was fire coming out of two front windows and the door,” said Deputy Chief David Anthony of the Westmount Volunteer Fire Department. “We just did the best we could to keep it from getting into the woods and knock it down as efficiently as we could. But the older structures are made very well and they are very hard to knock down."

Police believe the fire is suspicious.

"There was no electricity to the building, so we're just kind of putting two and two together,” said Anthony.

Residents say they heard what sounded like explosions.

"I was here at about 1:50 this morning,” said resident Della MacDonald. “Talked to some people who had heard, and they said it was two loud bangs."

Many former parishioners were on hand Sunday morning to take photos and share memories.

"My husband and I got married in this church 25 years ago in May,” said resident Barbara Watson. “Both of our children were baptized in this church."

The church had been slated for demolition, but it’s cold comfort for residents and former parishioners who feel this building deserved a better final chapter.

"It is disappointing that people would have such little respect for a church and that they didn't allow us to to dispose of the church with dignity," said MacDonald.

"Some of the logs, the supporting beams, have the names of the people who built the church on them. Things like that will be lost," said Kevin Smith, whose grandfather built the church.

Anyone with information on the blaze is asked to contact Cape Breton police or Crime Stoppers.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ryan MacDonald.