Clean-up begins after downtown Indianapolis church fire

A fire caused heavy smoke damage to the sanctuary of St. John Catholic Church Wednesday morning.

Crews are already working to clean up a downtown Indianapolis church after an apparent arson early Wednesday.

By sundown Wednesday night, crews outside St. John Catholic Church downtown were shuttling lift equipment around. The contractor hoped to be moving the lifts into the church sanctuary to begin scrubbing down smoke damage from Wednesday morning's arson.

They even built a special ramp so they could drive the rigs up the church steps and into the building.

But they had second thoughts after concerns about the 150-year-old building's floor. Could it safely support the heavy construction equipment?

They decided to take a look at that issue Thursday morning .

Earlier, crews with Moore Restoration wheeled large air scrubbers with HEPA filters into the church.

The church will open Thursday for its regular 12:10 p.m. Mass, preceded by 11:15 a.m. Confessions.

Arson suspected

The fire was set near the back of the church. It burned some woodwork and smoke damage was visible on the walls 15-16 feet above the fire area.

But experts tell Eyewitness News much of the smoke damage may not be visible until they actually begin cleaning the walls.

Police say there was no sign anyone broke into the church, so it's still unclear how an arsonist got in to start the fire.

Eyewitness News is told investigators will likely study surveillance video from security cameras around the church to see if someone entered Tuesday night before the church was locked up.

They may have hidden somewhere inside the church until after the doors were locked.

Downtown worker Darren Fish was deeply hurt by the arson.

"When I was coming out of the garage and I saw all the fire departments and police, it just upset me. Such a beautiful facility, they tried to burn down so I was just angry about it," Fish said.