A 45-year-old Sydney man has been charged over a fire at St Carthage’s Catholic Cathedral in Lismore on Friday morning. Source: ABC News.
Patrolling police noticed the fire just before 6.30am on Friday and alerted the fire brigade.
Fire crews initially struggled to contain the blaze as they were unable to access the main body of the fire, which was in the roof area of the cathedral.
Firefighters resorted to smashing the roof after thermal imaging cameras helped them locate the worst part of the blaze. The fire was contained shortly after 10am.
Lismore Bishop Greg Homeming OCD was unruffled by the fire and praised the work of emergency services.
“I’m not disturbed by what has happened, it’s a building, and I thank God that no one was injured,” he said.
“I have only seen the outside and it seems more than likely it’s only been a small part affected because of the great work of firefighters and police.”
It is believed that the fire started in the sacristy and has not damaged the main part of the cathedral. Several artefacts were moved out of the church and there was expected to be substantial damage to the roof area.
The neighbouring secondary school, Trinity Catholic College, was closed for the day and scheduled Masses were relocated.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, Bishop Homeming thanked police for swiftly arresting the suspect.
The man was charged with multiple offences, including damage to property by fire, armed robbery and using an offensive weapon to prevent lawful detention.
He is due to appear before a magistrate at the Lismore Local Court today.
Man, 45, on robbery, weapon and arson charges after St Carthage’s Cathedral blaze in Lismore (By Bronwyn Herbert, ABC News)
Police treat fire at St Carthage’s Cathedral in Lismore as suspicious, arson squad investigates (By Emma Hannigan, ABC News)
Statement from Bishop Greg Homeming OCD (Lismore Diocese)
Statement from Lismore Chancery, Saturday 19 September (Facebook/Lismore Diocese)