If you walked into St. Joseph Cathedral on Monday afternoon, you would see very little evidence that there was a fire inside just days before. Masses went on as scheduled over the weekend and the smell of smoke has dissipated.
Three pews that were damaged by fire on Friday morning have since been removed from along the south wall. In their places, work crews are laying a structure to set up a hydraulic lift that will allow them to get a closer look at the ceiling later this week.
While the ceiling looks the same from ground level, there may be smoke damage to the ceiling paint and that's where repairs could get costly. Although the Buffalo Fire Department gave an initial estimate of $230,000, it is still too early to say if the repair costs will actually go that high. A lot will depend on what if any smoke damage there is to the ceiling.
It was just before sunrise on Friday when the heat from one of the wall lights ignited a work tarp, and caused a fire to burn three pews. The smoke rose to the choir loft, activating an alarm. The fire was brought under control quickly and within hours, the church was ventilated, cleaned and dried. The Diocese would like to thank Hohl Industrial, in Tonawanda, for delivering four large fans free of charge and on short notice Friday morning. That was critical in helping to keep smoke and moisture damage to a minimum.