Fire kills St. Thomas University art professor and beloved Catholic...
By Herald staff reports
Fire kills St. Thomas University art professor and beloved Catholic priest in his Fort Lauderdale home
A St. Thomas University art professor and popular priest at Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Church in Miami Lakes died in a fire at his Fort Lauderdale home Tuesday night after trying to extinguish the blaze with a garden hose.
Jorge Angel Sardinas, 53, was transported to Broward General Medical Center's emergency room, where a doctor pronounced him dead.
Sardinas' dog also died of smoke inhalation inside the house at 3221 S.W. 20 Court, according to fire officials.
Sardinas' house still had hurricane shutters on it, which allowed the heat and smoke inside the house to grow like an oven, fire officials said.
The fire started in the bedroom. Witnesses said Sardinas came outside to pick up a garden hose, and went back inside to put out the flames. But he was overcome by intense heat and smoke.
''It looks like the bedroom flashed and burned him,'' Acting Division Chief John Ramirez said.
Sardinas then went into cardiac arrest. Neighbors called the fire department around 10:30 p.m. Sardinas apparently never called the fire department.
When firefighters went inside the home, they found Sardinas near the bedroom with the garden hose running. He had burns on his chest, face and part of his back. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Fire officials warned residents not to try to fight fires on their own.
"A garden hose is no match for a raging fire," Battalion Chief Chris Weir said. "We have the equipment. And we are trained to do it."
A mass honoring Sardinas took place at 12:05 p.m. today in the Chapel of St. Anthony at the university, 16401 N.W. 37th Avenue in Miami Gardens.
Sardinas used his artistic skills to design the chapel, said Kathleen Lowe a university spokeswoman.
"St. Thomas University has suffered a tremendous loss with the passing of our beloved art professor," Lowe said.
News of Sardinas' passing shocked parishioners at Our Lady of the Lakes. Emily Borras, 25, who has attended the church since she was in elementary school, couldn't believe her favorite priest was gone.
"He will be greatly missed, and his absence will be felt throughout the church," Borras said.
She and her mother, also a parishioner at the church, had discussed taking a bible class with him because he was so knowledgeable and engaging in his sermons.
"He always knew the history behind the readings," said Borras, an international marketing strategist at Motorola. "I learned a lot from listening to him at church.
"He made you reflect on the passages and on your life."
A wake will take place in the chapel from 5-10 p.m. Thursday, with a prayer service at 7 p.m.
A Mass of Resurrection will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Friday at Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Church, 15801 N.W. 67th Avenue in Miami Lakes.
Sardinas' survivors include cousins Sarah Saborido, Luis Arrizurieta, Sylvia Roepke, all of South Florida; his brother, Alfredo of the Dominican Republic; and many nieces and nephews.
Donations may be made in lieu of flowers to: The Father Jorge Sardinas Memorial Fund for St. Anthony Chapel, St. Thomas University, 16401 N.W. 37th Avenue, Miami Gardens 33054 or to Our Lady of the Lakes Art Docent Program, 15801 N.W. 67th Ave., Miami Lakes, 33014.
A video interview of Sardinas on his design of the Chapel of St. Anthony is available at www.miamiarch.org.
Published in the Miami Herald on Sept. 15, 2004