Lightning strike believed to start fire at Pilot Mountain church

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PILOT MOUNTAIN, N.C. -- Lightning is believed to be the cause of a fire at a Surry County Church Saturday night, according to John Shelton of Surry County EMS.

The fire happened at around 10 p.m. at Friendly Chapel Church in Pilot Mountain.

Witnesses told the Pilot Knob Volunteer Fire Department that two lightning strikes hit the steeple. The force sparked a fire at its base and scattered debris around the church.

“It was really scary seeing the fire come out of the roof of the church,” said Nancy Gallant. “We didn't know how much damage it was doing. We sat there, and we cried but then we knew that God was in control.”

Five fire departments responded to the church and were able to put out the fire despite dangerous conditions.

“It was hailing, it was lightning, it was thundering and everything else,” said Pastor Don Collins.

Firefighters say the water they used and rain damaged the vestibule inside. The sanctuary was spared.

On Sunday, caution tape surrounded the church entrance. Worshipers gathered in the neighboring fellowship building.

“We will have our full schedule of services going on,” said Donald Gallant, a deacon at the church. “It may not be in the church building, but wherever the people are together that's where we will have the church.”

Members of the congregation told FOX8 they are thankful no one was hurt and praised the firefighter’s efforts in the dangerous conditions.

Now, they are looking to a higher power to help them move forward from this setback.

“We believe,” said Pastor Collins. “We're believers, so we think he will do great things for us.”

The church is waiting on insurance before repairs can begin.

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