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Lightning strike may have caused fire in church built in 1822

March 31, 2012

UPPER STRASBURG, Pa. — A lightning strike is believed to have caused a Saturday morning fire that damaged a nearly two centuries-old church.

The fire at Emanuel Lutheran Church at 9416 Upper Strasburg Road was called in at 1:47 a.m., said Tom Rine, chief of the Pleasant Hall Volunteer Fire Co. Burn marks on the exterior of the building indicated that the fire might have been started by an electrical storm that passed through the area around midnight, he said.

The bell tower of the church was burned and fire extended into the attic of the structure, making it necessary for firefighters to open holes in the roof to get to the fire, Rine said. The church was built in 1822 and, in order to limit water damage in the sanctuary, some furnishings were moved and tarps placed over pews, he said.

The church sustained moderate fire and water damage, Rine said.

“The firefighters stuck with it. It was a challenge,” Rine said. “They took great care in trying to protect the furnishings.”

Firefighters from Letterkenny Army Depot along with the West End, Vigilant Hose and CV Hose companies in Shippensburg, Pa., Franklin Fire Co. in Chambersburg, Pa., and the Fannett-Metal and Newburg-Hopewell fire companies assisted at the scene, Rine said. The scene was cleared at 5:15 a.m., he said.

No one was injured, Rine said.

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