Winter Weather Advisory issued February 28 at 12:14PM EST expiring March 2 at 7:00AM EST in effect for: Adams, Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Centre, Clinton, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lycoming, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Potter, Schuylkill, Snyder, Somerset, Sullivan, Tioga, Union, York
The single bolt of lightning struck in a fraction of a second setting fire to the Monkton United Methodist Church, which has stood for 144 years.
"The lightning was all around...nothing close. You could see a flash...a couple of seconds later---thunder and then out of the blue, it was a flash...thunder right away... the whole house shook," said Brian MacMillan whose family rents the nearby parsonage house. "I walked outside and the whole sky was lit up with lightning streaks through the clouds. That's when I noticed the steeple was on fire."
MacMillan called 911, and firefighters arrived in time to keep the fire from spreading.
"We're still praising God. It could have been a whole lot worse," said Rev. Jack Bussard." It could not be here period. If it would have really caught and roared like normal fires do, we would be standing here looking at nothing but a shell and that would have been devastating."
Now, the church has extensive water and smoke damage to deal with, and its signature rose window in the main facade must be repaired, but the primary task on this day was saving the large bell that was original to the structure.
Housed inside the steeple for well over a century, that same bell has tolled virtually every Sunday morning since 1870.
Craftsmen had installed it upside down for structural purposes.
"It's up there now in the correct position, but we don't know if it fell that way last night, but the bell was heard to ring last night during the fire," said Ruth Mascari, one of the church’s trustees.
It may take weeks, if not months to repair the damage, but the church is hopeful it can re-open its daycare in a matter of days.