Lightning strike causes $185,000 in damage to Hope City Church in Downtown Duluth

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A Saturday evening lightning strike has caused an estimated $185,000 in damage to the Hope City Church in Downtown Duluth, a news release from the City of Duluth says.

The Duluth Fire Department responded to the fire at approximately 7:45 Saturday evening. A witness reported the church had been struck by lightning.

On arrival, crews found a large amount of debris in the street in front of the church on East 5th Street. The release says the western steeple that was struck was severely damaged and "reduced to its frame."

“Upon arrival, debris was scattered,” Assistant Chief Clint Reff said in the release. “It looked like a bomb had exploded.”

The release says officials found "considerable roof damage that has impacted the structural intent of the building."

City officials say the lightning strike also caused a water main to break. Crews are in the process of shutting down a portion of North East Third Street between East 5th and East 4th Street to repair the break. City officials also expect to close North 3rd Street between East 5th Street and East 4th Street once the water main break has been repaired. It is expected to be closed "until further notice."

City of Duluth Public Works crews will also be closing East 5th Street between North 3rd Avenue East and North 2nd Avenue East to vehicular traffic "due to the amount of debris and the building’s structural concerns."

A city building inspector will be reviewing the scene.

“The building will be uninhabitable until a structural engineer can determine if any part of the building can be used and what the plan will be to repair it,” Wendy Rannenberg, City of Duluth Building Official said in the release.

Crews from Headquarters, Lincoln Park, and UMD responded to the call. The Duluth Police Department also helped with traffic and crowd control, and assisted in coordinating the needs of Public Works and Utility Operations crews, in addition to Minnesota Power, and Comfort Systems personnel. Minnesota Power and Comfort Systems were also called to the scene to shut off power to the building.