ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Aug. 26) -- A fire raged through a 19th century cathedral Friday, collapsing the main cupola atop the stately church in Russia's former Imperial capital and sending clerics scurrying to save treasured icons.
The fire erupted in the early evening and burned through scaffolding outside the soaring blue central dome of Trinity Cathedral, a duty officer at the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said. The cause was not immediately known.
The central dome collapsed and one of four smaller cupolas surrounding it - painted a striking light blue and in some cases spangled with gold stars - was also destroyed, St. Petersburg emergency department spokeswoman Lyudmila Rubasova said. There were no reports of injuries, she said.
Firefighters battled to save the other three domes as emergency workers and church employees removed icons and other religious articles. A helicopter brought in to fight the blaze dumped water on the historic structure.
Rubasova said one of the three remaining domes had been damaged but that the fire was contained.
Before the fire, the domes towered from a solid base marked by classical columns.
The cathedral was built in 1835. State-run Rossiya television said the main dome was the second-largest wooden cupola in Europe, and Channel One said that writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky was married there.
It was used as a storehouse during the Soviet era and was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church in 1990.
08-26-06 02:14 EDT
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