“Fire marshals have . . . determined that candles, which had not been completely extinguished, caused the fire,” FDNY spokesman Frank Gribbon was quoted as stating in a New York Post article. Investigators were able to find evidence in the remains of the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava that proved caretaker, Slobodan Ljubenko, 69, had accidentally caused the May 1 fire by failing to put out the candles, sources said.
No charges are expected.
The tragedy reinforces the importance of reviewing candle safety tips in religious settings.
- Candles should be placed in a sturdy candle holder.
- Lit candles should not be placed in windows where a blind or curtain could catch fire.
- Places of worship should be equipped with a fire detection and sprinkler system.
NFPA’s Religious Candle Safety tip sheet provides additional information on using candles safely in places of worship.
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