Church fire follows lightning strike

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Blair, Fort Calhoun and Kennard fire departments responded to a fire at First Baptist Church Tuesday afternoon.

Connie Green, the church's secretary, said she heard and felt a strike of lightning during a thunderstorm while she was working alone in the newer addition of the church.

"The lights flickered for maybe three to four seconds, and then I looked out my window and I saw a flaming ember coming down," she said.

Green said she went outside and saw smoke coming from the main smokestack attached to the older part of the church, and called 9-1-1.

"At first I didn't see any flames, but about the third time I went out, there were flames and I called 9-1-1 again," she said. "It's a very historic church, it was one of the first churches in the area... it's survived a lot, and I'm hoping it will survive this."

Blair Fire Chief Dave Aten said the church had some water damage, and the smokestack was removed from the building after the fire was contained.

"Access was the biggest thing," Aten said of the departments trying to contain the fire.

The building had water damage in the sanctuary, with several damaged tiles. Pews were covered with tarps while the area was dried.

The church will hold its services in the fellowship hall until the damage is repaired.

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