Minneapolis Incarnation Church fire update: candle left burning determined as cause

A fire damaged the sanctuary and roof area of Incarnation Catholic Church in south Minneapolis Wednesday night. According to a video update, a candle left burning Tuesday night was the likely cause.

For the rest of March, weekend mass on Saturday nights and Sundays will be held in the school across the street, Hiawatha College Prep – Kingfield. The building is church-owned, but leased by the school. Previously scheduled weddings will be rescheduled and relocated. 

Carl Valdez has served the Incarnation Catholic Church Congregation at the corner of 38th and Pleasant Avenue South in Minneapolis as Deacon for 13 years. He’s grateful for the quick thinking of a parishioner who spotted smoke pouring out of the church on his way to work around 3:40 am. He called his wife, who then called 911.

"Who knows how much more damage would have been done if he hadn't seen it as soon as he did?" Valdez said.

The Minneapolis Fire Department says firefighters responded to the fire around 3:42 a.m. When they arrived, crews found fire showing on the first floor and the roof. Fire crews were able to extinguish the fire before it extended to any other areas outside of the sanctuary and roof area above the sanctuary.

"This has been a staple in the community for over 100 years," Deacon Carl Valdez said. "We're thankful that it's still there."

Firefighters searched all the floors for any victims and found none.

The fire did destroy stain glass windows dating back to the church’s 1910 origins, and Deacon Valdez reported significant water damage in the basement.

The photos below capture the aftermath inside the sanctuary. Church leaders canceled 8:30 a.m. services Wednesday and are now looking for temporary space for upcoming mass and other events in the coming days.

The community food shelf housed within one wing, though was not impacted, its work serving the community continuing as crews began restoring the historic, century old church.

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Damage after fire at Incarnation Church (Incarnation Church)

"The cleanup is going to take months, but fortunately, the structural damage was minimal," Valdez said.

The cause of the fire is being investigated.