Historic Mount Airy church a total loss after lightning strike

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MOUNT AIRY, N.C. -- A historic church in Mount Airy is a total loss after an apparent lightning strike on Thursday.

Officials say people nearby reported hearing a loud boom and then came outside to find the Ararat Missionary Baptist Church on fire. They believe strong storms came over the mountains and generated a lightning strike which hit the church steeple.

"I saw the steeple. It was just in flames. And the tears almost came to my eyes," said Edward McDaniels, who is a trustee and 38-year-member of the church.

Firefighters scrambled to get some of the valuables out of the church but couldn't save everything.

"The fire was coming through the roof and started falling in," said Deacon Clinton Carter.

They were able to save some stained glass windows, bibles, pews and an altar. Most of the rest of the remnants of the church were lost.

"The shock is over. And I'm just facing reality. That we just have to go on, because we have to keep that faith," said McDaniels.

Sadly, members say this is not the first time their congregation lost their church. Over 100 years ago, when the church was in a different building just down the road, it too caught fire.

"It's a lot of history here. So we hope we can rebuild and that some of the history can continue," said Faye Carter, the church clerk.

Thankfully, the congregation did have insurance on the building.

The neighboring LH Jones Family Resource Center has offered to let them worship there while they figure out where to go next.


  • bigtrav261

    Ah yes, Bo Didd, enlighten us with your observations and “expert” opinions. Because, you know, a 109-year old building’s attic (which had a metal roof added) catching fire and collapsing is unacceptable. I guess since they couldn’t really knock holes in the metal roof, the firefighters should have stood inside the church and sprayed water directly up, and also climbed up in the confined space of the attic to put out the fire.

    I mean, so what if a few of them lose their lives. Fire chief Bo Diddley said that they should fight the fire at all costs. Using his “expert” knowledge of all things fire, Chief Diddly Winks will personally train the replacement recruits.

    • Bo Diddley

      Actually attacking the fire from the proper angle and with the correct spread could have impacted the outcome greatly. Now that I have travelled to the site and reviewed my notes, I’m convinced a drunk monkey with a garden hose would have more success than what I saw demonstrated.

  • WowJustWow

    IF these were casinos going up in flames, everybody would be hollering about how God is judging America. lol

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