Candles in Cardboard Box Eyed As Possible Cause of NYC Church Fire: Officials

The blaze broke out on the Serbian Orthodox Church's Easter Sunday

Fire officials are looking into whether candles used in Easter services might be to blame for the raging fire that gutted a historic Manhattan cathedral on Sunday.

Fire officials said Tuesday they were looking into whether caretakers might've accidentally placed candles that hadn't been snuffed out in a cardboard box Sunday, sparking the blaze that destroyed the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava.

Authorities said that the cause of the fire is not suspicious.

More than 700 parishioners had celebrated Easter at the Flatiron District church before the blaze broke out, but the cathedral was empty when the fire began.

A building caretaker attempted to rush inside when he noticed the fire, but was turned back by the flames, fire officials said. He suffered from minor smoke inhalation. 

Five other people, including four firefighters, also had minor injuries, according to fire officials. 

Three other Orthodox cathedrals burned the exact same day around the world -- one in Russia, two in Australia -- but police said there's no evidence they are linked. The fire is not thought to be suspicious in nature.

The cathedral, formerly known as Trinity Chapel, was designed in 1850 by architect Richard M. Upjohn in the Gothic Revival style.

The chapel was an Episcopal Church for several decades until 1915, when the area became more commercial and parishioners decided to relocate.

The Serbian Orthodox Church purchased the structure from the Episcopal Diocese in New York in 1943. It was designated a New York City landmark in 1968.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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