Newport Firefighters were called to Sacred Heart Catholic Church on North 101 in Newport Monday at noon. A church worker went upstairs to check something and ran in to a room full of smoke. They called the fire department which is less than a block away. Firefighters rushed upstairs to find that the fire was already out.
But the occupants hadn’t put it out. It put itself out.
Fire Chief Rob Murphy said these kinds of fires happen – but not often. He said investigators found a puddle of candle wax on top of a table that had been a tall barrel-type candle last Wednesday when it was lit during a religious activity.
Chief Murphy said it seems like everyone left the room last Wednesday evening not realizing the flame had burned its way down deep inside the barrel candle where it couldn’t be seen.
Chief Murphy then surmised that the entire candle melted, creating drops of hot liquid that spilled over the side of the table, dripped onto two small white eraser boards underneath which began to smolder. They did burn, but very slowly. After an unknown amount of time the smolderings burned out, leaving a noticeable amount of smoke inside the room. The residual smoke was what the worker Monday morning ran into when she went upstairs.
Mess cleaned up. Case closed – except for a slight addition to the instructions when leaving the church at night. Turn off the lights AND blow out all candles before leaving the building.