Services go on at fire-damaged Merrick church

merrick church fire

August 11, 2013 3:41:36 PM PDT
A fire tore through St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Merrick Friday night, but it didn't keep congregants away.

They pulled together to pray as they do every Sunday, but the parish gathered for services in the parking lot of the church, where tents and chairs were set up.

Religious artifacts spared from the fire were placed at the altar.

The fire broke out Friday night at the church on Hewlett Avenue in Merrick.

The inside of the church was heavily damaged by the flames.

Windows were shattered, and there is heavy smoke and water damage.

The blaze destroyed the main entrance and the second floor choir loft above.

Firefighters worked to remove religious items that were spared.

The church was built in 1984, and for 400 close-knit Greek families, it's home.

75 firefighters from the Merrick Fire Department responded, and were assisted by departments from seven other towns.

Nassau County Police say the fire was caused by a lit candle inside the church and was determined not to be suspicious.

One firefighter was hospitalized wtih carbon monoxide poisoning.