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Fire destroys Buddhist temple, injures monk

Lao Buddhist Temple of Colorado

Fire destroyed this Buddhist temple in Westminster, Colo.

WESTMINSTER, Colo. -- A major fire Monday morning in the Denver suburb of Westminster injured a monk and destroyed a Buddhist temple for Laotians.

The blaze at the Lao Buddhist Temple of Colorado was reported sometime before 5 a.m. by the senior monk inside the temple, said Sy Pong, the temple's secretary of English. "He woke up and saw fire burning inside the main temple," Pong told msnbc.com.

The monk, Ounkham Veunnasack, age 76 or 77, was the only person inside the structure at the time, Pong said. He was taken to a hospital for treatment of minor burns and smoke inhalation.

"He's doing OK," Pong said.

The temple, which was recently remodeled, was "a total loss," Pong said.

About five monks are typically assigned to the temple, Pong told The Denver Post.

Westminster Fire Department spokeswoman Diana Allen said the cause of the blaze is under investigation.

Firefighters reported problems getting water as temperatures hovered near zero.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.