A four-alarm fire gutted a historic Gothic-style church in Manhattan’s Flatiron district Sunday night, injuring four firefighters and one other person, officials said.
About 170 FDNY firefighters worked for more than two hours to contain the massive flames that engulfed the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava on West 25th Street, according to FDNY officials.
The fire broke out early Sunday evening on the same day as the Orthodox Easter holiday.
An FDNY spokesman said a 911 call reporting the blaze came in about 6:49 p.m. At least 39 FDNY units were dispatched to the scene, which was deemed under control by the agency at about 9:45 p.m.
Earlier in the evening, flames could be seen shooting from the church’s roof, and smoke billowed over neighboring buildings.
The fire eventually caused the roof to collapse, an FDNY spokesman said. According to the Department of Buildings, what is left of the church is stable and not in danger of collapse, though crews are watching the structure for any falling debris.
Some church members watched the blaze in shock and cried, noting its significance to the city’s Serbian community.
“It’s our cultural hub,” said Dejan Dex Lipovic, 25, of midtown.
Lipovic, a real estate developer, said news of the fire brought him to tears. “It’s our Easter, you can’t pick a more worse day,”
Jovana Djurd, 22, of midtown, wiped tears as she watched firefighters working on the blaze.
“I went to Sunday school here,” Djurd said. “I learned Serbian here. It was a huge part of my life.”
Four firefighters were transported to Bellevue Hospital Center with minor injuries, and one civilian had minor injuries but refused medical treatment, the spokesman said. It was not immediately clear if the person was inside the church at the time of the fire.
A possible cause has not yet been determined, the spokesman said.
The church was designed in 1850, in the “Gothic Revival” architectural style, and was consecrated in 1855, according to the church’s website.
It was previously known as the Trinity Church, serving the Episcopal Diocese in New York, before it was purchased in 1943 by the Serbian Orthodox church.
In 1968 the cathedral was designated a New York City landmark.
The current Trinity Church is near Wall Street and Broadway near the World Trade Center.
(with Ivan Pereira)