ARNOLD, PA. — The cause of a massive fire at St. Vladimir Catholic Church on Kenneth Avenue in Arnold on Saturday is undetermined, according to our news partners at TribLIVE.com.
>>PHOTOS: Flames engulf church in Westmoreland County.
At least a dozen trucks from fire departments in Westmoreland and Allegheny counties were alerted to the fire around 7:30 p.m., according to Westmoreland County 911 operators.
A metal roof kept the flames in and water out, said Keith Dziobak, chief of Arnold Fire Company No. 2, and crews eventually resorted to trying to break through the fire-weakened roof with hoses from aerial trucks, according to our news partners at The Trib.
Firefighters were able to save a number of artifacts from inside the historic church, opened in 1947. The parish dates back to 1911, and the original church was on Third Avenue. Statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary that dated back to the original Third Avenue church were saved from the vestibule, along with the original pulpit from 1911.
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There is no word on if anyone was injured or what caused the fire to start. Damage to the church is estimated to be at $4 million, according to our news partners at TribLIVE.com.
The Diocese of Greensburg, Bishop Larry J. Kulick, released the following statement about the fire.
“I was so saddened to hear of the fire at St. Vladimir Ukrainian Catholic Church in Arnold. I, along with all the clergy and faithful of the Diocese of Greensburg, offer our thoughts and prayers to the pastor, parishioners and faithful in the Eparchy. As fellow brothers and sisters in faith, we stand ready to assist in any way possible. I have fond memories of the clergy and parishioners at St. Vladimir’s from my time as pastor of St. Joseph Parish in nearby New Kensington.”
Father Mark Swindle is the pastor at Holy Virgin Ukrainian Orthodox Church, just a few doors away. He immediately went to the location and watched firefighters carry out precious items.
“They brought this very very large icon of the resurrection of Christ right out of the side door and we were all just amazed that it wasn’t even touched,” he said. “The holy pictures were absolutely remarkably still intact and no water damage after the ceiling was starting to collapse in there.”
Father Swindle said he with the pastor at Saint Vladimir’s until the all clear was given and offered to help his friend and neighbor, saying my church is your church.
“Moving forward, he knows our church is open for him if he needs it in emergency and doesn’t wanna have it in his own hall. You know especially with the holidays coming up.”
For now church services are being held at the social hall next door.