Fire believed to have started in kitchen area

Print Article

  • the basement of St. Matthew’s Catholic Church was badly damaged after a fire broke out Sunday, May 12. (Photo provided by KC Jochim)

  • 1

    A group of St. Matthew’s School seventh-graders in Doug Manaker’s religious studies class gather outside the church to recite the rosary on Monday, May 13. (Hilary Matheson/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 2

    Art teacher Jennifer Griffith wipes away soot from a painting created by eighth-graders at St. Matthew’s School depicting one of the church’s stained glass windows. The painting had been stored in the basement. (Hilary Matheson/Daily Inter Lake)

  • the basement of St. Matthew’s Catholic Church was badly damaged after a fire broke out Sunday, May 12. (Photo provided by KC Jochim)

  • 1

    A group of St. Matthew’s School seventh-graders in Doug Manaker’s religious studies class gather outside the church to recite the rosary on Monday, May 13. (Hilary Matheson/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 2

    Art teacher Jennifer Griffith wipes away soot from a painting created by eighth-graders at St. Matthew’s School depicting one of the church’s stained glass windows. The painting had been stored in the basement. (Hilary Matheson/Daily Inter Lake)

A group of St. Matthew’s School seventh-graders gathered Monday morning outside of St. Matthew’s Catholic Church to recite the rosary. The day before a fire had engulfed the basement of the historic church in downtown Kalispell.

Religion and social studies teacher Doug Manaker instructed the students to walk around the church and school, while praying for the church and to Saint Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters and builders. He said prayers were also in thanks that no one was injured and that the flames did not spread into the sanctuary on the main level.

According to the Rev. Rod Ermatinger, the fire is believed to have started in the kitchen area of the basement.

“When I heard about the fire last night, I thought we should pray,” Manaker said, noting that students are studying prayer in their religion class.

Although smoke was no longer billowing out the church windows as it had Sunday evening, an acrid smell still emanated from the open double doors of the church entrance.

Firefighters returned to the church Monday to finish their work before turning the building over to church officials. Kalispell Fire Department Chief Dave Dedman estimated damages to be around $150,000.

Two representatives with Thompson’s Restoration Fire and Water were also on site for a consultation as the church starts the process of restoration work.

Dallas Blodgett of Thompson’s Restoration said the largest loss occurred in the basement and said the main level, which sustained smoke damage, should be able to be cleaned and restored.

Ermatinger said Saturday and Sunday Masses will continue, but will be relocated to St. Matthew’s School gym. Weekday Masses are canceled this week and the coming weeks.

Sunday’s fire wasn’t the first fire to strike the historical building whose cornerstone was laid in 1910 and opened in 1911, according to Manaker. During an eighth-grade research project, it was learned that a fire broke out in 1938, which damaged an ornate altar that was replaced. This time, the fire wasn’t as severe in the sense that it was contained to the basement.

Understanding the historical significance of the structure, when it was determined no one was inside the building, firefighters took care to avoid damaging the stained glass windows and discussed ways to ventilate the smoke.

As part of the eight-grade research project, nine students painted one of the church’s stained glass windows depicting the “sacred heart of Jesus.”

While walking around the church, Manaker pointed to an intact basement window where he believed the acrylic painting was stored, not certain of it’s condition. Not long after returning to school, he learned that the painting survived the fire.

Outside the school, the painting was leaned against a fence. Art teacher Jennifer Griffith picked up a wet cloth and wiped away a fine layer of soot, beginning the process of restoration.

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com.

Print Article

Read More Local News

Bears keep Glacier National Park staff busy

July 22, 2019 at 5:09 pm | Daily Inter Lake Several bear-related incidents inside Glacier National Park have led staff to move some animals and make changes in the status of some of the campgrounds. According to information from the Park, bea...

Comments

Read More

MudMan, ministry close amid abuse allegations

July 22, 2019 at 4:40 pm | Daily Inter Lake Whitefish-based Potter’s Field Ministries is closing its MudMan Burgers restaurants and food trucks, and its ministry internship program amid allegations of abuse against the ministry’s interns. Si...

Comments

Read More

Calvary Chapel ends support of Potter’s Field Ministries

July 22, 2019 at 4:59 pm | Daily Inter Lake The Calvary Chapel has broken its affiliation with Potter’s Field Ministries in Whitefish and the ministry’s other associated businesses and nonprofits following allegations from former ministry me...

Comments

Read More

Kalispell council begins to tackle trail design

July 22, 2019 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake The Kalispell City Council will hold a public work session at 7 p.m. today to discuss Phase II of the Core Area trail design. Phase 1 of construction on the Glacier Rail Park has been completed thr...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 755-7000
727 East Idaho
Kalispell, MT 59901

©2019 Daily Inter Lake Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X