(CNN) — A fire broke out at a church owned by a white supremacist in North Dakota, leaving only the steeple standing and the rest of the property in charred ruins.
White supremacist Craig Cobb is listed on the deed of the Zion Lutheran Church in Nome, North Dakota, CNN affiliate KVRR reported.
The Barnes County Sheriff’s Office told the affiliate that it received reports about the fire Wednesday afternoon, but by the time firefighters arrived at the scene, the church was engulfed in flames.
Cobb bought the church this year, according to the affiliate. It’s unclear whether he lived in the church.
Jill Pederson, who took a photo of the flames swallowing the church, grew up in Nome and attended the church.
“My mom would clean it every week and I would tag along and get up there and pretend to preach to an invisible crowd,” Pederson told CNN.
“In a small community you are all family and that church kept everyone connected in some way and that is what will be missed the most.”
The cause of the fire was not immediately clear.
White supremacist views
Cobb is known for his white supremacist views. In 2013, he tried to transform the North Dakota town of Leith into a community that mirrored his way of thinking.
He said he envisioned Leith as a place where white nationalist banners can be flown, white culture celebrated and minorities kept away.
Cobb has said he wants this movement to spread to other communities, other nations, even around the world.
He is among the most well known white supremacists in North America, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.