WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WPRI) -- Right before Thanksgiving, a church catches fire, where at one point, the stubborn flames had every firefighter in Woonsocket out to battle it.
It started around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday inside St. Michael's Ukrainian Orthodox Parish on Harris Avenue.
All 26 members of Woonsocket's fire department fought the fire, and said they had a tough time putting the flames out due to the construction of the building.
According to the church's website, it was built in 1941 and it was one of several parishes that the broader Slavic/Ukrainian immigrant community founded in the area over the past 100 years.
No one was inside the church at the time of the fire, but employees were at the church around 9 p.m. Tuesday for a service.
Fire investigators said the cause of the fire was improper disposal of ashes, involving incense.
"They had a service the night before, they were using incense, and it was a product of charcoal, I believe incense they used that wasn't properly disposed of after," said Capt. Michael Morin of the Woonsocket Fire Department.
Father Anthony Perkins said his church community is strong, but heartbroken.
The inside of the church remains heavily damaged, mostly to the right rear of the building.
"We have a strong community, so I know that we will rebound. But there's going to be a lot of broken hearts in our community today."
Perkins said Wednesday marks an important day on the church's calendar, Saint Michael's Day.
Because that day is so special, Perkins began a service around 11 a.m. in a parish hall next to the church that was not damaged.
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