BRAVE firefighters battled for over two hours to control a blaze at the disused Sacred Heart Church in Accrington.
Two fire crews fought the blaze in the early hours of Monday morning, using thermal imaging cameras to make their way through the thick smoke.
Stephen Harrison, a sub-officer at the Hynd-burn Fire Station, said crews fought the fire - which is thought to have been started deliberately - after receiving an emergency call at 3.50am.
They left the Blackburn Road church around 6am after bringing the blaze under control.
Mr Harrison said the church was set alight in two places, with the sacristy, the living quarters and another room being badly burned, and smoke severely damaging the rest of the church.
Father Michael Walsh, spokesman for the Salford Diocese, said: "It is always sad and regrettable and very distressing when a place of worship is in any way vandalised.
"The church is in the process of being demolished anyway but we are sad this has happened."
It is thought arsonists broke a window to get in, and police have launched an inquiry into the blaze.
Sacred Heart closed its doors in June after a year-long review of the town's Catholic churches by the Salford Diocese.
The decision to close it was announced in a statement from the Rt Rev Terence Brain, the Bishop of Salford, read to parishioners from church pulpits in March.
A special thanksgiving mass attended by Hyndburn MP Greg Pope and the Mayor, Councillor Win Frankland, marked the end for the church.