ORLANDO, Fla. — A congregation is still searching for answers following a fire at Incarnation Catholic Church this weekend. On Saturday, the fire department responded to reports of flames seen in the back of the building.

What You Need To Know

  • It's still unclear what caused the fire

  • Though the fire department stated they got the blaze under control in under 30 minutes, members of the church say the inside is nearly destroyed

  • Members still attended mass on Sunday, though they had to attend in the parish hall

While firefighters were able to get the fire under control in less than 30 minutes, church members said the inside is nearly destroyed.

The new owner of College Park Laundry right across the street said he feels lucky that he happened to still be at work when he noticed something strange going on. He said he didn’t see anyone around, but then close to midnight he spotted smoke across the street. 

“At first I thought it was just a regular fire, you know backyard fire, but after realizing the smoke was coming from the back of the church at the top then I realized oh I need to call 911," Carl Humphrey told Spectrum News.

He said parishioners came by yesterday to thank him for calling 911. 

Members describe Incarnation Catholic Church, located at 1515 Edgewater Drive, as a traditional church with very devoted members. Some members drive from over an hour away to attend mass.

Father William Holiday inspected all the damage inside the now boarded up church this morning. He says while the fire managed to spare the vestments and the other items that are required for them to hold mass— he shared that everything else inside this building is charred.

“I was actually pretty much overwhelming to come back and be planning on another Sunday and several masses and seeing the folks and finding out, okay, I am going to have to do some additional planning," Holiday said.

He shared some pictures he took with his phone of what that fire Saturday night did to the church.

“As far as the interior of the church, particularly the alter area, where it looks like everything was centered, that is absolutely destroyed there is nothing left up there”

Despite the damage that included the church organ, Holiday and others believe in the resiliency of the church and its members.

“It’s a thriving parish. People love this church. It’s been growing a lot, everyone’s very committed to it,” said member John Buford.

Buford says members have never let unfortunate circumstances stop them from attending mass. He says even during hurricanes, members made their way out.

The situation with the fire was no different, he says. Despite the church facing severe damage on the inside, members attended mass in the nearby parish hall Sunday morning.

“(We’re) kind of embracing it as a part of God’s providence. Banding together to do volunteering, or donations, or whatever is required,” he said.

It’s still unclear what caused the fire.

“Your prayers and support will go a long way to help restore our church,” wrote parishioners on Facebook.