Fire breaks out at Cleveland’s historic St. Theodosius Cathedral (+VIDEO)

Cleveland, May 29, 2024

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A massive fire broke out at an historic Orthodox cathedral in Cleveland yesterday.

St. Theodosius Cathedral (OCA Diocese of the Midwest), built in 1911–1912, is formally recognized as a Cleveland landmark and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. The church that preceded the cathedral was built with donations from Royal Martyr Nicholas II of Russia.

The Association of Cleveland Fire Fighters IAFF Local 93 said the fire was reported at about 4:30 PM on Tuesday, reports

“They sent a crew inside to try to fight the fire from inside, but the smoke banked all the way down to the floor. They had a partial roof collapse inside. Don’t know how severe it is, but they didn’t feel comfortable having the firefighters remain inside, so they pulled them out and we’re fighting the fire from the roof,” said Cleveland Fire Chief Anthony Luke said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, though locals noted that there was construction underway at the cathedral.

Thankfully, there are no reports of injuries.

Locals who spoke with WKYC spoke of the loss, but also their resilient faith:

“A lot of people have their lives centered around this,” Luke noted. “We sent firefighters into the back of the church with one of the priests to pull out some of their valuable artifacts.”

Ken Kovach has worked as the choir master at St. Theodosius Orthodox Cathedral for 52 years. He’s placed decades of music in plastic bins upstairs in the loft of in the front of the church, but is unsure what will be left when the smoke clears from the fire.

“I realize I’m in a state of shock,” Kovach told WKYC. “This is our worst nightmare to have your church burned down.”

People watched in horror as a century’s worth of materials fell from the tower.

“This is a historic church sign of Cleveland and Tremont,” Jack Petito. “To see something as so iconic and beautiful as bold as this burn down … it’s just a tragedy.”

Some people tried to salvage what they could from the ground, while others were trying to comfort a parish priest, whose eyes filled with tears. Churchgoers, however, remain hopeful amid the devastation.

“It destroys our building, but it doesn’t destroy our faith,” Kovach added. “We are strong as Eastern Orthodox Christians. We’ll continue to have our services somewhere.”

His Eminence Archbishop Daniel of Chicago arrived yesterday to inspect the cathedral. He will lead a service on the cathedral grounds this morning.

Watch a local report from News 5 Cleveland:

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