St. Joseph Parish in Andale was planning to renovate the church in a few months but a lightning strike Sunday, June 24, resulted in a change of plans.
Father Daryl Befort said the parish was planning to begin a renovation in January but, instead, had begun a repair and restoration project.
“The fire was contained in the attic space and on the pitch of the roof,” Father Befort said last week. “There was no fire damage to the interior of the church, it was contained in the attic. We have a great deal of water damage in the ceiling, the walls, and the floor, from the amount of water that was used to put out the fire.”
The church pews and statues have been removed and will be restored, he said. “All of the altars are intact. No damage to any of those.”
Insurance adjustors have inspected the damage and construction companies are being contacted for estimates, Father Befort said, adding that, for now, he isn’t able to estimate when the repairs and restoration will begin and when the project will be complete.
Firefighters did a good job in containing the blaze to the attic space, he said.
Because the fire began during a thunderstorm, the firefighters suspected the fire started from a lightning strike. That was verified by video from a surveillance camera located at nearby Andale High School.
Two firefighters injured while fighting the blaze were hospitalized but were dismissed soon afterward.
Masses will be celebrated in the parish hall until repairs are completed. The parish is made up of about 370 families.

Parishioners help remove pews Monday morning, June 25, after lightning ignited a fire early Sunday at St. Joseph Church in Andale. (Photo by Fred Solis/The Clarion)