Fire at Ganina Yama Destroys
Tsar's Memorial Church

Fire at Ganina Yama Destroys Tsar's Memorial Church
Source: HTB.RU. Language: Russian. Duration: 3 minutes & 18 seconds

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Fire has destroyed much of the main church built on the site where the remains of Russia's last tsar, Nicholas II, and his family were found in the Urals.

The fire was considered as highly complicated, as most of the monastery buildings, including the main church, are made of wood.

While the dome of the church collapsed, firefighters managed to save part of the building and prevent the fire from spreading to other parts of the Ganina Yama monastery near Yekaterinburg.

Fire officials believe candles or stoves inside the church may have started the fire.

The monastery was founded in 2000 at the old mine where the bodies were dumped during the Revolution.

The alarm was raised at 0720 local time on Monday (0120 GMT), and 45 firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze.

"Candles were used in the church which had stove heating," emergencies officials told Russia's Itar-Tass news agency.

"It is not ruled out that this became the cause of the fire." This is not the first fire to hit the monastery. The last time the monastery was on fire in April, 2008 when the museum and a monastery shop burned down. The fire was caused by safety violations when using a heater.

There are no reports of anyone being injured in the fire.

A commemoration is held at the monastery annually to mourn the family, who were executed in Yekaterinburg.

The damage from the fire still has not been assessed. However, due to construction works there were no rare icons or any relics. The temple was to be restored by Sep. 21 in time for the anniversary festivities.

The Yekaterinburg eparchy is collecting donations towards the reconstruction of the church. Only the stone foundations survived the blaze, according to police press officer Valery Gorelykh.

The church was one of seven at the site, each dedicated to a member of the last Russian tsar's family.

Their bodies, brought to the mine on 17 July 1918, were not rediscovered until 1979 when five of them - Tsar Nicholas, Tsarina Alexandra and three of their daughters - were found by an amateur archaeologist. They were reinterred in St Petersburg in 1998.

The bodies of another daughter and the couple's only son were found in the area in 2007.

Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia
Sources: BBC News, ITAR-TASS & The Moscow News
14 September, 2010