Suspicious fire at Main Street church causes more than $1M in damages

Click to play video: 'Main Street church suffers extensive smoke damage from fire'
Main Street church suffers extensive smoke damage from fire
WATCH: Fire crews on scene after a blaze broke out at the church on Main Street Thursday night. – Jul 15, 2016

WINNIPEG — The arson unit is investigating a suspicious two-alarm fire at one of Winnipeg`s biggest churches caused extensive smoke damage to the building.

On Thursday, fire crews were called to the scene at around 9:30 p.m. at the Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral at 1175 Main Street.

Police say initial damage is estimated at more than $1,000,000.

“It’s shocking, it’s very shocking. I couldn’t believe it when I first came in there, how bad it was,” said Steve Hinkawich, a member of the church since 1985.

Fire officials said ventilation was a big challenge due to the size of the structure.

RAW: Interior aftermath of fire

Click to play video: 'RAW: Interior aftermath of fire at church on Winnipeg’s Main Street'
RAW: Interior aftermath of fire at church on Winnipeg’s Main Street

“If you don’t get in there fast and hit it hard, what happens is the whole church can be lost in mere minutes,” said Alex Forrest, president of the United Firefighters of Winnipeg.

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There were no injuries, but police are calling the fire suspicious and the arson unit is investigating.

“If that is the case, what a tragedy. Why would anyone want to do that to such a beautiful piece of Winnipeg’s heritage and history?” said Forrest.

Officers are asking anyone with information to contact them at 204-986-6813 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).

Damage to the inside of the church Friday morning. Jeremy Desrochers/Global News
Ash can be seen on the church pews. Jeremy Desrochers/Global News
More damage from the fire. Jeremy Desrochers/Global News
Jeremy Desrochers/Global News
Jeremy Desrochers/Global News
Damage from the fire in the summer. Jeremy Desrochers/Global News
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The fire broke out at 9:30 p.m. Thursday. Colton Goforth/Global News
The fire department said the fire itself wasn't too big, but heavy black smoke and high heat caused a lot of damage. Colton Goforth/Global News

Alex Forrest, the president of the United Firefighters of Winnipeg, tweeted out that over 100 crew members were used when battling the blaze. He also said the fire is likely arson.

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There are several other orthodox churches in the area so members of Holy Trinity are hoping that services can be held in some of those while their church is being repaired.

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