WANG TOWNSHIP, Minn. (KMSP) - A church went up in flames on Saturday morning after lightning struck the building in Renville County, Minn.
Crews battled the fire at Hawk Creek Lutheran Church for six hours and eventually were able to extinguish the flames. But they were unable to save a majority of the church. Members are grateful the Sunday school wing was spared as was a new playground and most of the altar.
No one was inside of the church when the fire broke out at 9 a.m. Therefore, there were no injuries.
"The preliminary investigation revealed a strong thunderstorm system was travelling through western Renville County," the Renville County Sheriff's Office said. "Lightning from the thunderstorm system struck the western half of the building causing the building to ignite."
Pastor Dan Bowman believes the lightning struck a metal support for an elevator placed in the church just a few years ago.
“So that elevator which was a blessing to us for a long time, ended up to be almost a curse for us, because that's what the lightning hit,” he said.
Vernon Johnson has been a member of Hawk Creek all 84 years of his life just like his father and grandfather before him.
“Tough. I cried most of the day,” said Johnson. “It's terrible for me to see our church go down, and it's kind of the end of that era.”
Hawk Creek Lutheran Church is located about four miles northwest of Sacred Heart, Minn. in Wang Township.
The Renville County Sheriff’s Office is continuing its investigation into the fire. A GoFundMe page has been set up for the church.