Chicago cathedral damaged by fire

Feb. 4, 2009 at 10:00 AM

CHICAGO, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- An early morning fire caused extensive damage to a landmark Roman Catholic cathedral north of downtown Chicago, officials said Wednesday.

A fire believed related to ongoing restoration work at Holy Name Cathedral caused extensive damage to the church building, the seat of Cardinal Francis George, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The fire damage was "awful," Jimmy Lago, chancellor of the Chicago archdiocese, told the newspaper, adding, "It's a tragedy just to see it … My heart goes out to the parishioners and those who worship here."

Lago said the five red cardinals' hats, or galeros, suspended from Holy Name's ceiling were soaked. Each had been raised to the ceiling upon the occasion of a cardinal's death. Heavy water was seen falling into the altar area of the church from the roof where the flames seemed to be concentrated, the newspaper said.

Officials said the fire started in an attic area of the cathedral, where major repairs were being made. The facility had recently reopened after being closed for six months for major structural repairs, the Tribune said.

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