Lightning Strikes North Abilene Church, Flames Spread Quickly

Published 05/15 2013 10:30PM

Updated 05/15 2013 10:47PM

It happened in an instant.

"Well I saw a bolt of lightning come from the sky as I was coming north on Willis," said Reverend Todd Forrest.

"I saw a jagged streak of lightning come down and hit that church," said Tommy Conlee. 

"It flashed, the lightning flashed in front of us and it was just white," explained Tracy Chapman. "And thunder immediately."

And before he knew it, Reverend Forrest was watching flames and smoke come from the fellowship hall of his church.

"Not expecting this on a Wednesday night," he said. "Prayer meeting was going to start soon, but thankfully nobody was in the building."

As the strike quickly turned into flames, members of the Fountain Gate Church watched as their neighboring church was swallowed by the blaze.

"And over there we could see flames coming, peaking through the trees. It wasn't very long between the lightning and the flames," said Chapman. 

As they watched, Chapman says she couldn't stop thinking about how close she had come to encountering the lightning strike herself.

"I had just walked through that field, coming from the "Y" to Fountain Gate. So it was fifteen minutes tops before that lightning struck right there," she said. "And we would've been right there if we had been late."

Though there will be some rebuilding, they're just thankful it's all material damage.

"Everything in that building is replaceable," said Reverend Forrest. "And the church will go on. That'll be no problem. And God will take care of us."

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