Lightning strike damages historic Alexander City Church, fire crews save building

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ALEXANDER CITY, Ala. (WRBL) – A lightning strike during Tuesday night’s severe weather is thought to be the cause of a massive fire at a historic church in Alexander City. The blaze several feet up in the tower, setting up a dangerous scene for the Alexander City Fire Department as they worked to contain the high fire and keep it from spreading.

12-year-old Britton Brown grew up in the First United Methodist Church in Alexander City. The church is a landmark in the city, founded in 1872. It’s a historic place of worship, weddings, baptisms, and town fellowship. When Brown heard his church was on fire, he asked his grandfather to drive him to the scene. Brown pulled out his camera and started videoing the fire while praying at the same time. Brown was in awe, watching the firefighters risk their safety to save his church.

“I feel like they saved this church because a lot of people wouldn’t know what to do without a church. Because God helps them live their everyday life,” said Brown.

Tuesday night, during severe weather, lighting is thought to have struck the steeple. The town gathered to watch and pray for first responders.

“The bell tower is 104 years old, and so obviously, the community was out there. We were watching an incredible display of courage and love by the firefighters,” said Senior Pastor Barry Dunn.

Little water pressure made it difficult to fight the fire from up high from the ladder truck. The worry was the steeple would fall into the rest of the church, and the fire would spread quickly. The main concern was the tower would collapse, sending the bell and rafters falling onto the first responders below.

“It was very dangerous. High fires are hard to fight. I am just thankful nobody got hurt,” said Alexander Fire Chief Reese McAlister.

Chief McAlister says the city boosted to high pressure, and volunteer fire departments came from all over, bringing their drop tanks. Within an hour, the fire was contained. The sanctuary is ruined, but the rest of the church was saved. Most importantly, everyone was safe.

“We are so thankful. It could have been so much worse,” said Senior Pastor Dunn.

Because the fire was contained, Sunday services for Mother’s Day can be held in the fellowship hall while the church works to rebuild the sanctuary as soon as possible.

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