Pennsylvania Church goes up in flames after lightning strike

Thu, 08/25/2022 – 21:42

Nicole Fuschino for 6 News

Instead of raindrops rolling off the roof of the Windber Church of the Nazarene, the rain poured right inside where congregants used to sit and pray.

That’s because a powerful lightning strike opened the ceiling up to the sky early in the morning on Sunday 21 August.

“The building has smoke and water damage throughout, but there’s a lot of things that have religious value that have no markings of anything on them,” Windber Fire Department Chief Anson Bloom said.

Firefighters were alerted around 4:15 Sunday morning and were met with significant flames raging out of the roof.

“Crews arrived on scene to find heavy fire in the roofline. They made an aggressive attack on it. A flawless execution saved a majority of the church. It’s an unfortunate event, but they were able to save a lot of valuable property,” Bloom said.

Fire officials say it was burning for about 35 to 40 minutes before they got there.

“The lightning strike was up top. The fire was burning in the roofline. Until somebody notices it in the middle of the night, the fire has got a good head start on us,” Bloom said.

The damage is primarily centralized near the stained glass in the back of the church — but if you turn 180 degrees — the altar area in the front is basically untouched.

“Untouched was a lot of religious items — statues and Bibles — that were basically unscathed. So, it was a pretty neat phenomenon,” Bloom told 6 News.

Members of the church say they are hopeful to restore their sanctuary.

“It’s bad. But we will rebuild. We will buy whatever and do what we need to do. We’re down but we’re not out. That’s for sure,” said Board Member Carol Hoover.

Bloom said one firefighter was injured during the blaze, taken to the hospital, released the same day, and is currently resting at home.

“It is rare. A church being struck by lightning on a Sunday. But everything happens for a reason. I think we were in the right place at the right time,” Bloom told 6 News.

This story was originally published by WJAC 6 News.


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