West Babylon, NY, July 22, 2015
A fire caused millions of dollars in damages to a Greek Orthodox church on Long Island. The fire broke out Tuesday night at the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in West Babylon. Father Demetrios Kazakis said the fire began from a malfunctioning refrigerator that was in a small room by the altar.
“Smoke damage is extensive here,” he told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall. “The heat of the fire itself went throughout the entire church.”
Kazakis said many newly painted religious icons were destroyed. “We just did a recent iconography project on the west wall of our church. The entire wall had iconography placed on it,” he said. “Not even a month and a half and it’s all gone.”
On Wednesday, parishioners stood in shock, consoling one another.
“I didn’t know what to say. It was heartbreaking to watch everything crumbling in the fire,” parishioner Victoria Lentzeres told CBS2’s Tony Aiello.
“My heart hurts because it was like your own home burning down. We didn’t know how bad it would be,” said church youth advisor Patty Vorilas.
“We will come together as a community like we always do, and make it work,” said church secretary Anna Pisani.
But even though the fire caused millions of dollars in damages, Kazakis said there was a miracle. “Within the room that was engulfed by flame, the only icon that survived was a St. Nicholas icon in pretty good condition,” he said. “St. Nicholas Church, St. Nicholas icon.”
Many treasures were rescued from the flames, including a box containing relics from their patron that are 1,700 years old, Aiello reported. “We have the relic of St. Nicholas, which is a piece of fragment of his bone, of St. Nicholas’ bone, which is a relic we hold very dear,” Kazakis said.
This is actually the third, and worst, fire for the parish. The last fire happened in 1992, Hall reported.