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Lightning does roof damage to Butler church

June 11, 2014 News Extra

A bolt of lightning Wednesday night damaged the Grace @Calvary Lutheran Church in downtown.

But the church’s Facebook page quickly dispelled any notion of any major problems.

“For those of you who have been wondering, the church was struck by lightning this evening,” said the posting about 9 p.m. “Nobody was hurt thank goodness!”

The bolt struck the large dome of the church just after 7 p.m., sending several stone blocks tumbling down to the roof below.

The stones bounced off the roof before making their way to the street around the church, which is distinctive with its heavy stone and rounded arches.

Church officials said the sanctuary was spared any damage.

The lightning was part of a strong thunderstorm that moved across Butler County.

Bob Fleeger, the president of the church council, said there was a youth group visiting from St. Luke Lutheran Church in Cabot in the basement of the church at the time of the strike. He said the youth group moved to the basement because of the concerns with the storm.

None of the stone blocks made it inside the building.

“If you stand inside, you can’t even tell anything happened,” Fleeger said. “It just tore up the roof.”

The Butler Fire Department and the VA Butler Healthcare fire department’s role Rapid Intervention Response Team were dispatched but found no fire.

City code enforcement officer John Evans also was called to inspect the building for any structural damage that could pose a safety hazard.

There was no estimate on the cost of damage.

Fleeger said he did not expect the damage to impact the church’s Sunday service since it could be held in the basement if needed.