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Buffalo's Greek Orthodox church relates to Notre Dame fire

Remembering rebuilding Buffalo's Greek Orthodox church from fire
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Posted at 5:04 PM, Apr 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-17 18:38:48-04

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — One church community in Buffalo can relate to the destruction caused by that fire at Notre Dame in Paris. In 2001, an arson blaze ripped through Buffalo’s Greek Orthodox church at West Utica Street and Delaware Avenue. 7 Eyewitness News senior reporter Eileen Buckley is learning how the Gothic-style church was resurrected.

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Stain glass window in Buffalo's Greek Orthodox church depicts the patron saint of fire fighters dousing the church fire.

Saint Michael the archangel is the patron saint for firefighters. This stain glass window was added after the 2001 blaze destroyed the inside of the Hellenic Orthodox Church of the Annunciation. The window depicts the church on-fire with the saint dousing it with water.

Father Christos Christakis is presiding priest of the church.

“It was tragic for everybody,” remarked Christakis.

Father Christakis was not at the church at the time of the fire. But the Paris fire brought back memories for the Greek congregation who lived through the tragic blaze. It left extensive damage to this church built in 1906. The entire interior had to be re-built.

“The pews – there was smoke damage – many of the windows were broken. As a result - the church had to be rebuilt in a sense. The whole tier of the church had to be restructured, from the basement up,” Christakis explained.

But some 18-years later, Father Christaski lends hope that Notre Dame can be rebuilt.

“All these churches – they are beautiful and older and so much detail, so it’s a tremendous job, but if the congregation or the people are determined to do it – it will happen,” said Christakis.

The Buffalo blaze even created a greater awareness of being mindful of flames at the Greek Orthodox church.

“We have a plan and we are very careful, especially in our tradition we use real candles…but we are very careful with everything we do,” Christakis replied.

While rebuilding Notre Dame will take years, this Greek orthodox church is an example that a Gothic style structure can be restored.