Lightning strike may have sparked ‘devastating’ fire at church on James Island

Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 10:16 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 9, 2021 at 5:36 PM EDT
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JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - Firefighters are investigating whether lightning struck the steeple of a Baptist church on James Island, sparking an early-morning fire.

Dispatchers received the first word of a fire at the Fort Johnson Baptist Church in the 1400 block of Camp Road at 8:38 a.m.

The church said lightning may have struck the church Wednesday night and smoldered until flames broke out Thursday morning.

The smell of smoke remains strong in the heavily-damaged sanctuary where the building’s roof caved in, dropping smoldered pieces of the roof onto the pews saturated by water from fire hoses and heavy rain.

The church released a brief statement on the fire Thursday morning on its Facebook page:

As some of you have seen on the news this morning or have heard from family and friends, we have had a devastating fire in our Sanctuary. We are so grateful that everyone made it out of the buildings safely and the preschool was not yet open. At this time we must remember that all things work in God’s glory.

Senior Pastor Marty Middleton said he has been blown away by the reaction to the fire.

“I’ve been just amazed at the community support other pastors from all of the state have called and offered support and said how can we help and just really willing to pray for us and to get involved and see what we can do to rebuild, I guess,” Middleton said.

Middleton said the first step to rebuilding is talking to insurance adjusters and getting disaster relief workers to the scene.

Members of the church family may help clear out some of the things left in the church so they do not become damaged by the elements, he said.

Services, meanwhile, will go on Sunday, but in another building at the church campus, Middleton said.

Camp Road was closed at Oyster Point Road as firefighters responded. The fire was extinguished shortly before 10 a.m., according to firefighters at the scene.

An early-morning fire heavily damaged Fort Johnson Baptist Church on Camp Road on James Island.
An early-morning fire heavily damaged Fort Johnson Baptist Church on Camp Road on James Island.(Live 5)

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