A fire in Hinton, Alta., Tuesday night destroyed the Roxy Theatre, a "devastating" loss for the community, said a local official.

The 50-year-old building doubled as the town's only movie theatre and performing arts centre.

"This community is very passionate about its arts and culture, and performing arts are a huge component of what we do here in this area," said Dan Pagely, Hinton's director of community and protective services. "We have several hundred young and adult folks performing on the stage theatre annually, whether it's dance recitals, theatre productions."

It's believed the fire started in the roof and spread quickly inside.  Firefighters battled to keep the flames from spreading to an adjacent strip mall. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

The building was a vintage movie theatre design and contained a grand piano. Pagely said the town had recently installed lighting and sound systems in the building.

Hinton is about 286 kilometres west of Edmonton.