Church fire likely caused by lightning


In the early morning of February 7, an abrupt lightning storm lit up the skies over Scott County and was likely the cause of a fire in the Steele Community.

According to Chief Shawn Chambers of the North Central Scott County Volunteer Fire Department the Scott County Sheriff Department’s emergency dispatch center received a 911 call of a house on fire around 5:00 a.m. last Wednesday.

“Our fire department was immediately dispatched to 8977 Hwy. 21 North for a structure fire,” Chambers said. “When the first responding unit acknowledged the emergency page, the dispatcher advised that, it was the house beside the Steele Baptist Church.”

“We automatically request mutual aid from the next closest fire department,” Chambers said. “On this particular incident Sebastopol Volunteer Fire Department, also Lake Volunteer Fire Department were requested to assist our department.” Chambers said that, Engine 1, Engine 2, and Tanker 2 were the responding apparatus from North Central, along with a fire truck from Sebastopol. Lake  responded, sending personnel only, “as no additional fire apparatus was needed,” Chambers said.

Lake fireman Steven Floyd, a member of the Steele Baptist Church, that lives a short distance from the church was the first fire department responder to arrive on scene.

Chambers said that from the time of arrival that nothing could be done to salvage any part of the home as it was already too far gone.

When the fire fighters realized that the structure could not be salvaged they turned their focus to protecting the structures around the area, “The main concern and focus point on any fire that is beyond being saved is preventing the fire from spreading and protecting any nearby structures, in this case it was the church,” Chambers said.

All evidence seems to indicate that the church had been struck by lightning. Chambers said that it completely destroyed the church’s steeple. “This would give a good indication, but again not officially declared that the fire to the parsonage was caused by the lighting,” he said.

“I would personally like to thank the men and women on our department, Lake VFD, Sebastopol VFD, LifeCare EMS, Scott County Sheriff’s Department, and others not mention for the great working relationship, and all the services provided,” Chambers concluded.