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Grotto closed after small fire erupts

Observer Staff Report | Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The interior of the Grotto will be closed until further notice after a small fire erupted Monday night.

The Notre Dame fire department responded to a call around 6:15 p.m. and extinguished the fire within about 30 minutes, University spokesman Dennis Brown said.

No one was injured. The cause of the fire was initially unknown, Brown said.

The University will work with fire and engineering specialists to determine if the fire caused any significant structural damage.

“You can see that there is some charring … Some of the vegetation up across the top got burned,” Brown said. “It’s not substantially different, but you can see the blackened soot.”

Brown said the Grotto suffered more severe damaged when it caught fire on Sept. 23, 1985 and rocks that make up the Grotto chipped off and fell to the ground.

“It was substantially larger than this one,” he said.

Brown said the University does not have a time line on how long it will take to assess the shrine and make any necessary repairs. Until then, the interior of the Grotto will be barricaded off, but people will still be able to kneel outside of it and pray.