NEW YORK: A historic Serbian church in the heart of midtown Manhattan has been reduced to smoldering ruins, following a massive fire late Sunday.
Parts of the charred exterior walls are all that remain of the Saint Sava Cathedral, an Orthodox church near New York’s famed Flatiron building.
— Eyewitness News (@ABC7NY) May 1, 2016
Authorities have yet to determine what led to the fire, which sent thick plumes of smoke billowing through the heart of the city as massive flames lit up the neighbourhood.
“No cause yet,” a fire department spokesman told AFP. “We won’t know for a while.”
The spectacular blaze occurred just hours after Sunday celebrations at Saint Sava in honour of Orthodox Easter, one of the holiest days of the calendar in the Serbian community.
“We had service on Sunday. There were around 700 people. It finished around 1 pm. Nobody was in the church and then this came,” said Father Djokan Majstorovic, who said the church was “very lucky” that the building was empty when disaster struck.
About 170 firefighters spent several hours battling the inferno, which was finally extinguished early on Monday.