A huge fire broke out at the Coptic Catholic Church of Mar-Girgis church in Luxor at dawn yesterday Wednesday 20 April.
Raafat Samir, a Luxor rights activist, gave ++Watani++ an account of the incident.
According to Mr Samir, at 5.00am Wednesday, the priests residing on the second floor of the building adjacent to the church, which serves as a community center and a home for the church pastor—felt extreme heat emanating from the church. They rushed to the church, and found out that a huge fire had completely eaten up the interior of the church and that only the outer door remained. The fire had also devoured the first floor of the service building and was pushing up to the second. Even the marble on the walls of the church, Mr Samir said, had fallen off.
The fire department was swiftly called. The firefighting trucks, however, took a very long time to reach the church, Mr Samir said, since it lies right behind the old tourist market, and therefore most roads leading to it were cordoned off for security reasons. The only road through which the church could be reached was a six-metre wide road which the fire trucks could not pass through. Meanwhile the flames continued to eat up the church and community center until the firefighters found a way through and put out the fire. Preliminary estimates place the losses at millions of Egyptian pounds.
Mr Samir said the official report by the Luxor building administration will determine whether or not the ruined church should be demolished; and it will be the responsibly of Luxor Governor Muhammad Badr to grant a rebuilding or renovation permit.
According to Mar-Girgis’s Father Stephanous, the forensic authority is investigating the reason behind the fire. He insists he had checked the church before closing it on the eve of the fire, and made sure there were no burning candles. He then switched off all the electric switches.
Fr Stephanous told ++Watani++ that Governor Badr visited the church after the fire and promised to issue permits for its demolition and rebuilding.
21 April 2016