More Than 100 Firefighters Put Out Church Fire On East Oak Lane

More Than 100 Firefighters Put Out Church Fire On East Oak Lane

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PHILADELPHIA -

Powerful flames burst through the roof of St. Mary of the Protectress Ukrainian Orthodox Church in East Oak Lane. It happened minutes after Sunday services ended.

The blaze was so strong that fire officials had to strike four alarms and call in more than 100 firefighters to get it under control.

"This family, this church, they took me in as their own," says Oksana Pelipchook.

It is especially tragic for Oksana Pelipchook and her family. She got married here and her three children were baptized in the church too.

"Lots of happy memories we had here. It's so sad to see everything turn into ashes like this but I guess that's the life we have," she says.

Members say they noticed signs of fire minutes after services ended.

"Suddenly we smelled smoke and then we see on the corner of the church…smoke," says a witness.

Fire crews from two doors down rushed in along with teams from across the city. But there were several challenges awaiting in a structure built in the early 1920s, including a tower that fell into the roof.

"If we had people inside it would have been a very very bad situation," says a firefighter.

The situation is bad enough for members like Oksana, she feels she lost a part of the family.

"The feeling you have every time you leave this church, it's never going to be the same again," says Oksana, in tears.

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