On Monday afternoon, the St. George Church located in the Old Fortress of Corfu caught fire. As per the most recent reports, the roof of the 19th-century church was destroyed by the flames.
Fire Trucks from the Hellenic Fire Department were dispatched to deal with the blaze, although putting the fire out proved difficult. No injuries were reported. The aesthetically unique church on Corfu was likely set alight by a double lighting strike.
The church is over 150 years old and dates back to the period of the British Protection of Corfu. The unique structure was designed to look like an ancient Greek temple and initially served Protestant worshippers before it became a Greek Orthodox church.
St. George Church in Corfu catches fire
According to the eyewitness accounts of officials from the antiquities tax office who were present at the religious building, they heard a loud bang and immediately rushed out to see that the roof of the church was engulfed in flames.
Eight fire trucks were dispatched to the scene. The first task the firefighters and officials undertook was the removal of valuable religious icons and relics from inside the church so that they did not get destroyed in the fire.
📌Ολοκληρώθηκε η επιχείρηση κατάσβεσης της πυρκαγιάς στον Ι.Ν. Αγίου Γεωργίου στην #Κέρκυρα
— Υπουργείο Πολιτισμού και Αθλητισμού (@cultureGR) June 12, 2023
When firefighters arrived to extinguish the fire which was consuming the church, their fire engines were unable to pass through the moat of the Old Fortress of Corfu. The firefighters requisitioned a special crane which allowed them to scale a height of 12 meters to put out the blaze on the roof.
It is currently understood that one-sixth (40 square meters) of the church’s roof and ceiling were destroyed in the fire. The rest of the structure appears to have survived. Members of the fire department are monitoring what remains of the roof and ceiling structure for any signs of fire. A small blaze under one of the tiles could spread and engulf the church once more. The investigative division of the fire department is looking into why the church went up in flames.
St. George Church
Today’s fire has added yet another interesting page in the history of this 19th-century church on Corfu. Thankfully, the blaze does not appear to have engulfed the entire structure and this will not be the final page in its history.
St. George was built in 1840 to serve the religious needs of British soldiers stationed on the island. The design of the church was based on drawings by a British military officer and engineer Antony Emmet. It mimics an ancient Greek temple built in the Doric style.
In 1865, the Church of St. George became Greek Orthodox when Corfu was incorporated into Greece.