NEW YORK CITY — A massive fire broke out at a historic church in Flatiron just hours after thousands attended services there Sunday.
Fire broke out on the first floor of the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava at 24 West 25th St. in the Flatiron District after 7 p.m., according to the FDNY. The fire quickly escalated to four-alarm and black smoke billowed out of the partially collapsed roof.
More than 168 firefighters and 39 pieces of firefighting equipment were at the scene trying to prevent the flames from spreading, PIX 11 reported. The landmarked church stretches an entire city block from 25th to 26 Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue and ladders attacked the flames from both streets.
The fire chief told PIX11 News that the side of the church on West 26th Street was in danger of collapsing.
"The good news is no one was injured," Daniel Nigro, NYC fire commissioner said at a news conference. "But the bad news is the cathedral is badly damaged."
Hours before the fire, more than 1,000 people were inside in services between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. to celebrated Easter. It's the only Serbian Orthodox Church in New York City.
"This church is really beautiful and large inside" Dex Lupivic, church member, told PIX11 News. "I am so sad. I had just been there for Easter Mass at 10 am."
A church priest, Father Djokan Majstorovic, told the Associated Press that he felt like he was "in a nightmare" as he tried to get to the fire scene that was blocked off by firefighters.
"We will build again if we have, "Branuskav Novicevic, a church member, said.
The church was built in the early 1850s and was designated a city landmark in 1968.
It's unclear how the fire started.