Fire brings down two domes of historical Russian cathedral

Friday, August 25, 2006

File picture of the Trinity Cathedral

A fire broke out at the Trinity Cathedral in St. Petersburg, causing the main dome and another dome to collapse, early in the evening of August 25.

Firefighters fought the blaze, and a helicopter was pressed into service. Staff, emergency service workers and passers by rescued treasured items from the cathedral.

Four hours later, St. Petersburg emergency department spokeswoman Lyudmila Rubasova said the fires were contained but the remaining domes were damaged. Later a departmental spokesmen said that the fire was extinguished.

"The main dome has been destroyed but we could not stop the fire because it was so high and now other domes are in flames," said a spokesman for Russia's emergencies ministry.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known, but acting St. Petersburg emergency department chief Leonid Belyayev said the blaze seems to have started on scaffolding on the outside of the church, which was undergoing restoration.

He also said that the most valuable icons and other items had been saved, and that structural damage beneath the roof area was minor.

There are no reported injuries.