Devastating fire engulfs Greek Orthodox Church of St Andrew in Adelaide

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A devastating fire has torn through the Greek Orthodox Church of St Andrew Noarlunga in Christie Downs, Adelaide on Saturday March 30. The fire occurred just weeks before the most important time of year for the church, ahead of Greek Orthodox Easter.

Parish priest, Father Armandos Manafis, left the church around 7pm, only to receive a distressing call an hour later, alerting him to the raging flames engulfing the entrance of the church.

Photo: Madeline Morrison/Facebook

Firefighters swiftly responded to the scene, with 17 firefighters, five appliances, and a command vehicle working tirelessly to contain and extinguish the blaze. Flames were seen billowing out of the upstairs windows, presenting a challenging situation for the firefighters. After 20 minutes of battling the fire, they were successful in bringing it under control.

Investigators have examined the scene and have determined that the fire was non-suspicious, although the exact cause is yet to be determined.

Photo: The Advertiser

This incident comes shortly after a scandal involving the former priest of the same parish, Father John Christodoulos, who was exposed for living a secret double life and obtaining significant financial donations from an elderly parishioner. The elderly parishioner’s family eventually recovered over $1 million worth of jewellery from Father Christodoulos.

It was also uncovered that the priest had been using the gay Grindr app to engage in secretive encounters with other men.

Father Manafis, still in shock from the destruction of his church, expressed his sadness and disbelief. He had left the church after putting out the candles, as he normally would, only to return to chaos. He described the situation as unexpected and disorientating, with everything in the church being turned upside down.

Despite the devastation, a service was held the following morning outside the damaged church. Parishioners gathered on plastic chairs, listening to the service and demonstrating their resilience. Father Manafis emphasised that the church is not defined by its physical building but by the people. The emotional impact was evident, with long-time parishioners, who consider the church their home, shedding tears.

Photo: The Advertiser/Morgan Sette

Father Manafis remains hopeful and determined to rebuild with the support of the parishioners. He expressed gratitude that the damage was contained to one section of the building and estimates that the restoration costs will not be significant. The Metropolitan Fire Service has estimated the damage to be around $150,000. Fortunately, there were no injuries reported, as the church was unoccupied at the time of the fire.

Source: The Advertiser

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