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Massive Fire at Flatiron Church May Have Been Caused By Smoldering Candles

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The source of the blaze that destroyed the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava may have been determined

Days after a fire gutted the interior of the landmarked Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava in Flatiron, authorities are still searching for the source of the four-alarm blaze. But it seems an answer is near. It's likely that candles that were improperly extinguished after the church's Easter service earlier on Sunday are to blame, the Times reports by way of FDNY.

A church caretaker told FDNY that he extinguished hundreds of candles following the Easter service and stored them in a cardboard box under a wooden piece of furniture near the rear of the church. It's possible that one or several of those candles is the source of the blaze that devastated the 161-year-old building.

When the FDNY entered the building after discernible signs of a fire around 7 p.m. on Sunday, it was apparent that the blaze had been burning for a while. Fire department spokesman Francis Gribbons said that by the time the FDNY entered, the choir loft had already collapsed. "You don’t get a fire like that in 10 minutes," he said.

The church's exterior structure remains stable as of Tuesday, DNAinfo reports. The church's timber hammerbeam roof, one of the largest examples in New York City, was destroyed in the blaze.

Photographer Richard Silver captured the cathedral's ceiling in his Vertical Churches series, which captures the naves of some of the city's most historic churches.

Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava

20 W 26th St, New York, NY 10010 (212) 242-9240 Visit Website