Lightning Strikes Church Steeple In Port Richmond, Causing Fire


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Lightning struck the steeple of a Port Richmond church and set it on fire Monday afternoon. The sound of the strike at the Grace Episcopal Church at Venango and Edgemont Streets rattled the neighborhood.

Late Monday afternoon, just after 4:30, lightning struck Grace Episcopal Church’s steeple, setting it on fire.

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“We live down the street here and it started to rain and then when it stopped, the lightning started. And then all of a sudden, it sounded like a bomb went off,” parishioner Ann Paul said.

Luckily, no one was inside the church and the local fire department, which is just a few blocks away, responded almost immediately.

“The fire was put out. There was minimal water damage to the entrance of the sanctuary and the altar and that area has not been affected,” Father Brian Rallison said.

Father Brian was eventually able to get inside once it was deemed safe. There was water damage, but the pulpit, for example, was spared.

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In the days, weeks, and months ahead, the church will be rebuilt.

“Itt’s a holy place for us but ultimately people are OK and that’s what’s important. It’s hard, it’s hard for the parishioners but we’ll rebuild. We’ll just move forward,” Father Brian said.

All things considered, things could have been much, much worse.

“As a priest, I’m just grateful that nobody was hurt,” Father Brian said.

“Pretty emotional but I was thankful that it wasn’t [Sunday] when I had a church full of people for mass and everything else,” church warden Ken Paul said.

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Fundraising efforts are already underway to help pay for the insurance deductible and anything insurance may not cover.

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