It's shocking video making the rounds on social media - The Mason County courthouse was set ablaze on Thursday night, burning nearly 3 and half hours.

According to KXAN, officials say the fire started around 10 p.m. and burned until nearly 1:30 a.m., when all that was left standing was the brick wall on the outermost edge of the building.

The 111-year-old courthouse is a near-total loss.

According to Mason County Judge Jerry Bearden, the courthouse was set to undergo renovations, and all official court documents had been relocated in December of 2020.

What we have left are 110-year-old walls,” Bearden said in an interview with KXAN. “It’s a terrible tragedy for people in the county. This is my 19th year being in office here, and I’ve been through floods and fires, but I’ve never had anything with a gut punch that I’ve had with this.”

Police say they have an arsonist suspect custody. He led police on a short pursuit following the fire, and even live-streamed the pursuit on Facebook.

The suspect is also suspected of setting a nearby home on fire, but there is no apparent motive behind the blazes at this time.

According to Bearden, the Mason County Courthouse was built in 1909 with construction complete in 1910. It was the county’s third courthouse, with the previous two also burning down.

“It’s something that everybody in the county here loved,” Bearden said. “It just breaks your heart to look at it.”

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