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Westmoreland

Jeannette church damaged when roof workers spark blaze, fire official says

| Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018, 1:51 p.m.

Damage reportedly was minimal when a fire broke out shortly before 1:30 p.m. Thursday on the roof of S.S. Cyril and Methodius Orthodox Church in Jeannette.

The fire was sparked accidentally by workers heating material as they applied it to the roof of century-old church on Scott Avenue, according to Capt. Joe Matijevic of the Jeannette Fire Department.

Initial reports indicated heavy smoke was showing from the church steeple. Matijevic said firefighters quickly attacked the blaze from inside the church before quelling it on the exterior. Relatively little water was required to douse the flames, he said.

Sophie Daniels, wife of the Rev. Lawrence Daniels, was doing on paperwork to start a GoFundMe campaign with church administrator Dan Henry when they got the call about the fire.

Like many churches in the region, S.S. Cyril and Methodius Orthodox Church is struggling to maintain membership and raise money, Daniels said. The church needs funds to help pay for ongoing renovations to the roof.

The church's red metal roof and bright blue domes, which stand out against the clusters of homes in the Jeannette neighborhood, were repaired in 2015 and 2016. But that round of renovations didn't do much to solve problems with the leaky, crumbling roof, Daniels said.

The company working on the roof Thursday was hired by the church to repair rot and other damage.

Daniels said she's not sure what will happen next.

"We have no idea. I'm hopeful that the people doing the roof, that their insurance covers it," she said.

"We've got to get it covered because this weekend is rain and snow," Daniels said.

The parish was founded in 1909 by Russian families, according to its website. The current brick building was constructed in 1915 and underwent a total renovation — interior and exterior — in 1980.

The church has smoke detectors that automatically alert the fire department when triggered, Sophie Daniels said.

"Things happen, there's a reason for it," Rev. Daniels said.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622, jhimler@tribweb.com or via Twitter @jhimler_news. Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at jmartines@tribweb.com, 724-850-2867 or on Twitter @Jamie_Martines.

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