Officials: 3-alarm Wareham church fire appears to be accidental

Parishioners keep faith following blaze
Sep 22, 2018

A three-alarm fire that tore through St. Patrick’s Church on High Street early Saturday morning causing $500,000 in damage appears to be accidental, officials say. The fire broke out in the church’s loft just after 1 a.m. Firefighters were alerted via the building’s alarm.

“If it hadn’t gone off, the damage would have been much worse,” said Wareham Assistant Fire Chief Pat Haskell, a parishioner at the Catholic church.  

Crews from Onset, Marion, Bourne, Rochester and Carver responded with a total of 35 firefighters. No injuries were reported and no one was in the church when the fire began.

The smell of smoke was still heavy at the church grounds as some parishioners arrived to survey the damage Saturday. They walked slowly through the aisles, taking stock of the blackened ceiling and talking quietly with one another.

The choir loft where the fire originated loomed overhead. The church organ was little more than a charred husk.

“It’s sad,” Father Antonio DaSilva said. “Very, very sad.”

Nearly eight hours after the blaze was reported, Wareham firefighters remained to keep watch on the building.

“We’re trying to help out however we can,” Haskell said. “This is my church and it’s a focal point for our community.”

Haskell said that the building – though charred – was still structurally sound. He added that the cause of the fire, while still under investigation, is not believed to be suspicious.

In anticipation of Sunday Mass, parishioners worked together to move collection baskets and other items to the church’s parish center, located next door.

Father Antonio said Mass would be held in the center for the next three to four months while the church undergoes repairs.

“I’m just glad that no one was hurt,” said parishioner Joe Cardoza. “It’s a very sad thing, but a building can be replaced.”

Despite the damage, parishioners remained hopeful the building would be repaired soon.

“The church is its people,” added Richard Boucher, who’s been a member of St. Patrick’s for over 40 years. “And we’re not going anywhere.”