A fire ruined at least three pews inside St. Joseph Cathedral Friday morning, with Buffalo Fire Department officials estimating about $230,000 in damages.
Msgr. David Slubecky had turned on the lights inside the Cathedral at about 5:15 a.m. About an hour later, the smoke alarm went off in the choir loft. A private contractor has been removing some of the stained glass windows over the past year to do maintenance on the leaded glass. It is believed that in the process of this year-long work, some combustibles may have been left too close to the light ballast under the window that was being worked on. When the lights were turned on Friday morning, the heat from the light apparently ignited some of the combustibles under the window. The fire spread downward and damaged the ends of three pews closest to the south wall of the church.
Friday morning's 7:30 a.m. mass was cancelled but Friday's noon mass will go on, as scheduled, in the Lady Chapel. For the next day or two, fans will be running in the Cathedral to dry up the moisture from the fire hoses and the smell of the smoke. We do expect all masses to go on as scheduled this weekend. The Buffalo Fire Department has estimated damage to be about $230,000 but diocesan staff has not reached any conclusions about the extent of damage.
St. Joseph Cathedral was built with Gothic Revival style architecture and opened in 1862.