Philadelphia - Monday, Oct 28, 2013 parishioners of a Philadelphia Ukrainian Orthodox church say the four-alarm fire that destroyed millions of dollars in furniture and artifacts and left a gaping hole in the center of the historic building also revealed a miracle.
"The fire was blazing, so when we saw the fire, we thought everything burned," Saint Mary the Protectress Ukrainian Orthodox Church treasurer and parishioner Pasha Prasko said. "But now that we can see inside, we looked at it and said it’s amazing so many icons are still there."
Although a large portion of the church’s roof collapsed and more than 100 firefighters doused the building in water to tame the blaze, several icons remained untouched by the flames at the historic house of worship in the East Oak Lane section of the city on Sunday.
"It's a holy place, you know, and it's just not damaged the way we thought it would be," Prasko said. "We even talked about it yesterday and said it would be a miracle if her icon would be saved; and here it is, saved. I think it’s a miracle."
Philadelphia Firefighter Arthur Davis said he's never seen anything like it before.
"Not one of those pictures caught on fire; not the ones on the wall, not the ones on the stage, not one of them was damaged," Davis said.
"What happened was it started on the roof, the fire. But it's still amazing that with the collapse and all, this stuff is not burned. They could take it right off the wall; a lot of the pictures are still on the wall, the glass isn't broken or nothing. When it comes to fires, I've seen it all, but I've never seen nothing like this before."
At one point, 125 firefighters and 33 engines were on the scene trying to get the fire under control. The cause of the fire has not yet been identified, but officials believe it was electrical.
Firefighters were still on the scene this afternoon removing large debris from the premises. Davis says church leaders should be allowed to enter the building to retrieve artifacts and mementos sometime this evening.