£1.5m raised in wake of Notre-Dame blaze for US churches burned in suspected hate crimes

The burnt ruins of the Greater Union Baptist Church, one of three that recently burned down in Louisiana. Credit: AP

The Notre-Dame blaze has seen billions raised to help rebuild the famous Paris landmark, and it appears it is not the only place of worship to benefit from financial generosity following the fire.

Three small parish churches in Louisiana, burned in suspected hate crimes have seen at least £1.5 million raised for them as they seek to rebuild.

The fires at the three historically black churches in St Landry Parish occurred over 10 days beginning at the end of March.

Authorities in the US have charged Holden Matthews, the son of a sheriff's deputy with three counts of arson of a religious building.

The 21-year-old pleaded not guilty to the charges and was remanded in custody.

As of Sunday, a GoFundMe campaign seeking donations for the churches had raised only about £38,500, but in the wake of the Notre-Dame fire, the campaign was shared widely on social media by several prominent figures including former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Taking to social media just hours after the devastating Notre-Dame fire, Ms Clinton, 71, tweeted: ''As we hold Paris in our thoughts today, let’s also send some love to our neighbors in Louisiana.

"Three historically black churches have burned in recent weeks, charring buildings and scattering communities.''

The money raised will be distributed equally among the three churches, which were all around 100-years-old.

Gerald Toussaint, the pastor at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church which is one of the buildings affected said the generosity "gives you a new hope in society.

"It gives you a new hope in people because it shows a lot of people have a good heart."

Fire investigators believe the church fires were burned in suspected race hate crimes Credit: AP

Some donors on the GoFundMe site outlined why they supported the efforts.

Chester Fisher wrote: "I donated because if billionaires can give billions to rebuild Notre Dame, I can at least donate $50 to rebuild these churches."

Another, named Sandra Dawson, said: "I cried over Notre Dame. I cried over these churches."