Crews on alert for hot spots after ‘nightmare’ fire at historic Manhattan church

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FLATIRON DISTRICT, Manhattan — Crews were still on the scene Monday morning vigilant for hot spots and watching for any signs of collapse at a 160-year-old church in Manhattan that was ravaged by flames Sunday, hours after thousands of faithful celebrated a holy day.

The fire broke out about 8 p.m. Sunday on the first floor of the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral at St. Sava, located at 24 West 25th St. It's the only Serbian Orthodox Church in the five boroughs. The blaze happened on one of that church's holiest days of the year, Easter.

At least one person, a church caretaker, suffered smoke inhalation, according to the man's son.

Nearly 200 firefighters responded to the scene.

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.

Hours before the fire, more than 1,000 parishioners were inside to celebrate Easter Mass 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. The landmarked church stretches an entire city block between 25th and 26 streets between Broadway and Sixth Avenue. It was build in the early 1850s and designed a city landmark in 1968.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation.