A fire has ruined much of a famed 16th century church in the Peruvian city of Cuzco.

The blaze that burned into Friday morning destroyed the ornate, gilded altar and about two dozen paintings at the Temple of San Sebastian.

Architect Americo Carrillo says the loss is irreparable. He says the baroque church was "a jewel of Peru's colonial era." Carrillo led a $2 million restauration of the church between 2008 and 2013.

Firefighters say they lacked sufficient water to fight the fire, so neighbors pitched in by bringing water from home cisterns. Priests rang the church bells to summon help as the fire advanced.

The fire department says the cause of the blaze is under investigation, but a short circuit is suspected.