Lightning strike may be cause of fire at Port Richmond church

The fire happened around 4:23 p.m. at the Grace Episcopal Church and the Incarnation.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022
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"Yes, we are still sad. We have worked so hard over the past three years. But everyone is safe," wrote Grace Episcopal Church and the Incarnation on Facebook.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A fire destroyed the steeple of a church in Philadelphia's Port Richmond neighborhood Monday, and a lightning strike may be to blame.

It happened just after 4:15 p.m. at the Grace Episcopal Church and the Incarnation located at Edgemont and Venango streets.

"It sounded like an explosion, and I saw a flash of lightning and then a boom," said parishioner Anne Paul.

Storms were moving through the region at the time of the fire.

It took crews 20 minutes to get the flames under control.

"God love the people who put that steeple and cross up a hundred years ago, but they never put a lightning rod on it," said Reverend Brian Rallison. "So insurance will rectify that hopefully in the next couple of months."

Nancy Miller says she got married in this church more than three decades ago.

"It's not a very big congregation, but we'll do our best and see what they can do, and all the neighbors around here will help for sure," said parishioner Nancy Miller.

The fire marshal's office is investigating if the lightning strike caused the fire.

Revered Rallison said he's not sure if they will hold services this weekend. He said there was minimal water and smoke damage to the sanctuary.

No injuries were reported.

The church released this statement following the fire:

"If you have watched the news today, you might have already heard about our beautiful little church in Port Richmond. During a flash thunderstorm, our steeple was hit by lightning. Thank GOD, everyone is safe! Thank God, we know that church is not just about a building... it is about people. Yes, we are still sad. We have worked so hard over the past three years. But everyone is safe! That is all that matters!"