Burlington police say a man has been charged with arson in connection with a fire at an historic church near downtown.
Police were called at 5:34 a.m. Wednesday after the custodian at the College Street Congregational Church found a door open and heard someone in the steeple.
32-year-old Alaiksandr Bychkou of South Burlington was found inside the church and was initially taken into custody on a charge of unlawful trespass. Shortly afterward, the bell tower erupted in flames.
Bychkou was being arraigned Wednesday afternoon.
Fire Chief Seth Lasker says the fire was largely contained to the church steeple and the building is not a total loss.
Mayor Miro Weinberger says the skilled response saved the building from destruction, but it's still a tragic event.