HUBBARD, Ohio (WKBN) – The Ohio State Fire Marshal has made a ruling in the cause of a fire that damaged a church in Hubbard.
Assistant State Fire Marshal Todd Stitt said that while he can determine that the Jan. 18 fire at St. Patrick’s Church on N. Main Street started in a conference room in the basement, the cause of the fire is “undetermined.”
Stitt began his investigation by methodically walking through the church, starting in the least damaged areas and making his way to the lower floor.
In his report, Stitt said that the sanctuary sustained heat and soot damage and that fire from below caused a marble floor to crumble. The damage led him to the origin of the fire in the downstairs conference room.
The investigation included statements by firefighters that battled the heat and smoke, trying to save the church.
“As we moved down the stairs we could feel it getting hotter and hotter. As we got down to the first flight of steps, visibility was zero,” one firefighter wrote.
Sitt said the electrical panels in the church were not damaged by fire; however, fire crawled through the walls of the church and destroyed a drop-ceiling in the conference room, causing lighting fixtures to crash down with it.
Steel beams were bent and twisted by the fire, which caused the flooring above to collapse.
“Our hose team started to make our way to the front of the kitchen, and our air was getting low so we made our way back out of the church,” another firefighter wrote.
Stitt said that an electrical malfunction cannot be eliminated as the cause of the fire but “based on my education, training, witness observations and scene examination, the cause of this fire is undetermined,” he wrote in the report.
The case is closed. Should new information become available, the case will be re-opened and evaluated.
The damage is estimated to cost $4 million to fix. The church is accepting donations to help pay for repairs.