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Historic Kalispell church moving forward after weekend fire

Posted at 7:06 AM, May 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-14 08:37:53-04

KALISPELL – A historic Kalispell church was damaged by fire over the weekend.

MTN News has learned more about what the next steps are for the landmark building and for worshipers.

If you look close enough at the building, you can see the smoke damage from the fire that heavily damaged the basement at St. Matthew Church basement.

“When I came I saw all the smoke billowing out of the all the windows in the church as well as the vents in the roof, so I thought that the whole church was on fire,” St. Matthew Church Pastor Father Rod Ermitinger recalled.

Father Ermitinger noticed the fire at 5 p.m. on Mother’s Day when he was coming out of the rectory and noticed smoke billowing out of the church.

St Matthews Church Fire
St Matthews Church Fire

Multiple agencies responded to determine the fire’s point of origin was the basement kitchen.

“Extensive fire damage to the basement and then smoke damage throughout the rest of the church,” Kalispell Fire Chief Dave Dedman said.

Father Ermitinger — who has been St. Matthew’s pastor for nine years — says the church which was built in 1910 is a landmark in Kalispell.

“One of the parishioners told me about a year or so ago he did a study to find out the most visited places in the Flathead Valley. And St. Matthew’s is the fourteenth most visited place by tourists,” he explained.”

Chief Dedman says that as of right now there is no foul play expected in the basement fire.

Father Ermatinger says that while the church waits for the main building to be repaired, Mass will most likely be held in the St. Matthew’s school’s gym.

Father Ermatinger says if community members would like to help to call the main office at (406) 752-6788. The office will have a list of ways folks can help out.