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Historic Petrolia church suffers damage in lightning storm

By Melissa Schilz, Postmedia Network

The Petrolia Baptist Church was struck by lightning Thursday evening, damaging the rear chimney and a new steel roof. Melissa Schilz/The Topic

The Petrolia Baptist Church was struck by lightning Thursday evening, damaging the rear chimney and a new steel roof. Melissa Schilz/The Topic

Petrolia’s First Baptist Church sustained serious damage after it was struck by lightning last Thursday. Emergency crews cordoned off the area for a brief time to clean up and secure the area.

 

Fire chief Lawrence Swift said the lightning strike occurred during the torrential downpour, damaging a back chimney and a brand-new steel roof, scattering bricks throughout neighbouring properties.

 

“When I arrived on scene I was surprised at how far the bricks travelled…many hundreds of feet,” he said.

 

Swift said the furnaces were turned off when crews arrived on scene in case any bricks had blocked the chimney. They also assessed the building for any hot spots and potential fires in the attic area, but all was reported to be clear.

 

Nearby property was also damaged when the lightning struck, including a vehicle and a home next door. Bricks smashed through two second storey windows of a house on Walnut Street.

 

“There were people in the house, so it’s very lucky they weren’t in that room at the time,” he said.

 

Swift said the noise from the chimney being struck was extremely loud, being heard all throughout the downtown core of Petrolia.

 

No injuries were reported, and a cost of the damage is yet to be determined.

 

The brick Gothic Revival church was first opened in March of 1897, and was designed by Port Huron’s Isaac Erb.