Members of the parish board at Saint Mary the Protectress Ukrainian Orthodox Church await answers on what set off the four-alarm fire that damaged the historic church's building last weekend.
"It still is unknown what caused it," parish board member John Prasko said. "The different authorities are still investigating what actually happened, so we don’t know that yet. But we’re really anxious to find out what happened."
"We are still actively investigating and there are no updates on the cause of the fire at this time," Philadelphia Fire Department chief Richard Davidson said.
The fire broke out at St. Mary's Church on 6629 N 12th Street at around 1 p.m. last Sunday. It took firefighters more than two hours to get the blaze under control. No one was in the building at the time of the fire, but a large portion of the church’s roof collapsed.
With the exception of a few icons, which parishioners believe were miraculously spared, church leaders say millions of dollars in furniture and religious art were destroyed in the blaze.
Since last week, Prasko says hundreds of people have called the church asking how they can contribute to help the church rebuild.
"We’ve had people calling from all over the country, expressing their support for our church; wanting to help," Prasko said.
In response to calls from the public, the parish board decided to start a fire recovery fund to allow people to donate money towards the future costs of rebuilding, which Prasko says will likely be a costly task.
"The best thing to do would be to rebuild where we are, but we don’t know how much money we will get yet from the insurance company, or if we’ll get any money at all, or how much we’ll be able to raise," he said.
"This will be a very expensive project. It’s ultimately gonna come down to the people and the parishioners, their support, and their input about what we’ll do going forward. We would be very grateful for any donations and we’ll send thank you notes to all of the donors if we know the names and addresses.
St. Mary’s Protectress fire recovery fund is set up through a local credit union:
Ukrainian Self Reliance Federal Credit Union
1729 Cottman Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19111
Account # 7364.0000