'Virgin Mary' tree burned in West New York

July 19, 2013 8:08:40 PM PDT
In New Jersey, the loss of a tree to a fire is much more to some in the community than you might imagine.

Neighbors say it bears the image of the Virgin Mary and those who have prayed at its roots over the years say its loss is heart breaking.

In a community of devote Spanish Catholics, an image of what people say is the Virgin Mary is a miracle.

But Thursday night, a mysterious fire nearly burned down the tree along Bergenline Avenue in a spot where hundreds come to pray.

Enriqueta Morales say the person who did this will not get forgiveness from God or the Virgin Mary.

She guards the tree that many say shows the Virgin Mary, also called "La virgen de Guadalupe". West New York's Mayor Dr. Feliz Roque says police are investigating.

"As far as we know this was an accident even though some of people who were here last night say somebody lit it up and ran away. We don't have any proof of that," West New York Mayor Dr. Felix Roque said.

But most say this is not an accident, rather a case of arson.

Lina Tejada says to take the Virgin Mary and burn her is not right.

Many believe the fact that the image remains is further proof it's a message from God.

Officials say they believe the glass around a candle exploded and set the tree on fire.