Cathedral fire leaves smoky damage

Apr 1, 2016

A smoky blaze caused damaged inside St. Joseph's Cathedral in downtown Buffalo early Friday morning. 

Inside St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown Buffalo where some church pews were charred by an early morning fire.
Credit George Richert, Catholic Diocese of Buffalo

The church serves as the cathedral for the Diocese of Buffalo. Diocese spokesman George Richert said Monsignor David Slubecky turned on the church lights after 5 a.m. to prepare for 7:30 a.m. Mass.  The fire started around 6:15 a.m. when smoke detector sounded, but fire crews quickly put out the blaze.

Richert said it appears the lights heated up an area under construction inside the Cathedral.

"We've had a contractor working in the Cathedral for a good part of year, replacing the leaded glass windows, taking them out, one-by-one, working on them, replacing them." said Richert. 

It appears the church lights heated up in an area under construction. Richert said there may have  combustibles may have been left too close to the lights. 

"It appears maybe some combustibles where left too close to a light ballast sometime last evening and when the lights went on today, the heat from the lights, as it warmed up, caught some of those combustibles on fire," explained Richert. 

The fire spread downward in the church to a few pews in the middle side of the church. At least three pews were damaged by the blaze.

Outside of St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown Buffalo.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Damages was mostly from smoke and water. Firefighters used fans to clear out smoke from the historic church.

"Right now we are ventilating the Cathedral, which is going to take a while," noted Richert.

Friday's 12:05 p.m. Mass will be held in the side chapel of Cathedral, but Richert said officials are expecting to  to resume weekend Masses in the main Cathedral.   

Richert said they are thankful to city fire fighters for their quick and careful work.

"They were as respectful and gentle as they could have been to put this fire out quickly and we thank them for their quick work," stated Richert.