KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A late Sunday fire left the Catholic Charities of East Tennessee building along Dameron Avenue extremely damaged. On Monday, the Knoxville Fire Department determined the cause of the fire to be arson.

Wednesday, Bishop Richard F. Stika shared how they plan to move forward. “The work will continue, and we just take it one day at a time.”

“It’s not just a building it’s a symbol of hope. It’s the social outreach of the dioceses and it provides care and hope for people,” said Stika.

Catholic Charities have temporarily relocated office operations to its Division Street location, but Stika shared that they hope to set up a trailer near the original building to serve their clients until the building can be rebuilt.

“The clients will continually be served. It might be a little bit inconvenient. We’re going to see how we can possibly have a trailer close by here where people can come. We’re going to look at all those practical things, but I’m concerned about the staff because they feel vulnerable,” said Stika. “We’ll provide counseling if they want it, whatever they need. And we’ll move forward.”

When asked about his thoughts on the person who started the fire he said, “It’s sad to think someone would do that intentionally, but we live in a strange world and there is evil in the world and I pray for that person. I pray, especially for all the staff.”

“I believe in optimism and hope and this will be rebuilt. Our presence will be here in the same place, with maybe a little extra security and some fresh paint.”

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