Arapahoe church tower struck by lightning
Lightning struck the bell tower of the St. Germanus Catholic Church in Arapahoe Sunday causing a fire and some anxious moments in the community. Several area fire departments responded and quickly got it contained in the bell tower with water damage to the new front entryway beneath it. Arapahoe Fire Chief Brian Sisson said there was a lightning strike in the community around 11:15am Sunday "that shook a lot of homes". While making some calls on it, Sisson said the fire department pagers went off around 11:30am for a "structure fire" at the church. As he left the house, Sisson said he immediately asked the dispatcher to summon area communities for mutual aid. He thanked all of the departments and personal that "got it stopped before it got any worse." Mutual aid was provided by Holbrook, Edison, Cambridge, Beaver City and Oxford. Firefighters left the scene at 2:15pm.
The fire started a little more than an hour after the 9:00am worship service ended. As help began to arrive Sisson said he was surprised to see Cambridge firefighters pull in with an 85-foot ladder truck that they recently purchased from Kearney. He said the apparatus proved to be helpful in reaching the tower safely. While the bell tower was destroyed, Sisson believed the bell itself was fine. Damage was estimated at $10,000 to $20,000.
Chuck Collins, a church member, said it was fairly unsettling to see the flames from the tower when he arrived at the scene. He said "the firemen did a tremendous job in getting the fire contained and out and with minimal damage". Collins said he saw a little bit of symbolism towards the end when the smoke and steam subsided. A dove landed on the cross above the tower's steeple, which he took as "a good sign".
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