Greek Orthodox Cathedral survives brush with fire

A fire gutted a hall next to the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St George in Woodstock last week.

The Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St George in Woodstock remains open despite a fire that gutted an adjacent hall.

The cathedral’s Father Nikolaos Giamouridis said a caretaker had been busy making candles in the church hall before the fire started on Thursday March 18. “The fire began in the church hall and this was the only section that was completely destroyed.”

Father Giamouridis said they were waiting for a civil engineer to report back on how the hall might be restored.

The hall was used for ceremonies, weddings and social gatherings. Candles were made inside the hall and about 5000 of them were sold every month to raise money for the church.

“The churchgoers were very disappointed and it was upsetting to see everything gone in that section,” Father Giamouridis said.

Foti Sousalis, the chairman of the Hellenic Community of Cape Town, said some news reports had inaccurately claimed that the cathedral had been destroyed by the fire.

Mr Sousalis said swift action by neighbours and the Roeland Street and Salt River fire brigades had limited the worst of the damage to the hall.

“The cause of the fire is as yet unknown and is currently being investigated. The fire has destroyed our candles that were being produced for the upcoming Easter celebrations. The administrative committee and the community will be mobilising a plan in the next few days to replace the candles destroyed,” he said.

Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Jermaine Carelse said firefighters had responded to the call at 12.33pm and had found the building next to the church fully engulfed in flames.

“The entire workshop, where candles are manufactured, was destroyed in the blaze as well as minimal damages to the entrance hall of the church. The fire was extinguished at 1.22pm, and no injuries were reported.”