A fire which broke out in an Orthodox Church in the eastern Estonian town of Narva-Jõesuu saw serious damage done to valuable icons and other paraphernalia, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Monday. Church leaders are saying arson is to blame.
First responders managed to extinguish the fire and save the church building, which is wooden, but not before a large number of valuable church items were destroyed.
A call was made to the emergency center (Häirekeskus) at around 5 a.m. Sunday, and by the time firefighters arrived, the building, known as the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God, was fully ablaze, needing four hours to be put out.
Ida-Viru County National Heritage Board spokesperson Kalle Merilai told AK that: "The situation is certinly sad, very sad, and as of now we can't say how substantial the material loss is, but in historical terms the damage is incalculable. A large proportion of cultural heritage has been destroyed. Several icons are destroyed. At present, I can say that the state will support the restoration and we have decided that as much artwork which can be salvaged and restored, will be."
An investigation is pending to ascertain the cause of the fire.
Editor: Roberta Vaino, Andrew Whyte