Solomon church survives lightning-sparked fire

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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SOLOMON, Kan. -- The Immaculate Conception church has been in Solomon for more than 130 years. But with one flash of lightning over the weekend, it almost went up in flames.

Thankfully, someone spotted the fire just in time.

"We're very fortunate," Father John Wolesky said.

The church was built in the 1880's and was one of the first things built as the railroad came through, Wolesky said. It still has many of the original furnishings.

Wolesky lives on the church property. He heard a loud bang early Sunday morning, not long after Midnight. There was bad weather moving through the area so he didn't think much of it and he went back to sleep.

A few hours later, he was awakened by the beeping sound of his carbon monoxide detector. The power had gone out and the backup battery in the detector was going out too. As he worked to find a replacement, he had a visitor.

"The door rang and a young man said we were in trouble," Wolesky said.

He rushed outside to find the church's steeple on fire.

"It kind of looked like a little roman candle with a little fire at the top," Wolesky said.

Neighbor John Hood was able to snap photographs as the crews arrived. Firefighters broke into the bell tower to send water up toward the flames.

"They made it look like old faithful around here for a little bit," Wolesky said.

But even so, crews were able to keep the water and the flames to just the steeple. Miraculously the only damage was to the steeple cross that came crashing down. The water only seeped into a small area in the church's entry.

"It could have been a lot worse. If it would have burned for another hour or so, God only knows if anything would have been left," Wolesky said.

Wolesky says with that in mind, the congregation met that Sunday morning just hours after the fire. They gathered in a building next door to the church. He told the parishioners to remember how very fortunate they are and that God had been watching out for them.

"I told them we were really blessed," Wolesky said. "Be grateful that it was caught by someone and the good angel came and told us so we knew."

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