The FDNY believes some candles left in a cardboard box by a caretaker may be responsible for the massive fire that consumed the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Sava in the Flatiron District Sunday, reports said.
The fire, which took three hours to put out, completely destroyed the church’s roof, ABC 7 reported. Four firefighters suffered minor injuries, and a caretaker was treated for smoke inhalation.
The towering flames consumed the building only hours after about 700 people reportedly attended Orthodox Easter services.
The department said there is no evidence that points to foul play, but some in the orthodox community believe the blaze might be related to other large church fires in Australia and Russia — perhaps for the church’s role in lobbying Pope Francis to block the canonization of Croatian Nazi supporter Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac, the New York Post reported.
“Too many churches have burned to call it an accident,” Dr. Dušan T. Bataković, a former Serbian ambassador who is now director of the Institute for Balkan Studies in Belgrade, told the New York Post. “It is very strange that it happened, that the fires all took place on Easter, the greatest Christian Orthodox holiday...Some kind of terrorist action cannot be excluded.”
Whatever the cause, officials continue to investigate.