Lightning strike believed to cause Meigs County Church to burn d - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Lightning strike believed to cause Meigs County Church to burn down

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A Meigs County church goes up in flames, officials believe lightning is to blame.

"May have been an act of God, it may have been God testing everybody's faith," Jackie Moore says.

A little after 11p.m. Monday thunder and a loud crack of lightning awoke Moore. "It sounded like an earthquake," he says.

Next door at Grace Baptist Church he saw fire coming from the roof. "Looked out and it was coming through where the steeple had set," explains Moore.

Moore called 911 and within minutes multiple crews were on the scene. "Just a matter of minutes it was on fire from one end to the other," Moore says.

"The building was starting to collapse, the building was starting to fall in," says Meigs County EMS Director Tony Finnell.

Pastor Joe Andrew arrived shortly after fire crews, what he saw brought tears to his eyes. "The sanctuary was fully engulfed," Andrew says with tears in his eyes. "The whole sky was lit up."

One by one his congregation joined him in the church parking lot. "Hardest thing was to see the people huddled up, the hurt that's on their face and there's nothing you can do buy pray," he says.

Fire officials believe a lightning strike started the fire. The church has been a staple in the community since 1980. What started as a small basement congregation grew into a place of worship for 70 members.

It may be gone for now, but not forever. "Too many lives have been changed to let it lay in ruin," Andrew says.
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