Sedgwick County Fire Department reports that a lightning strike may be the cause of a large fire at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Andale that injured two firefighters Sunday.
The fire was reported at about 5:40 a.m. at the church, at 318 Rush in Andale. Multiple fire crews were called in to fight the blaze. Two firefighters were injured and taken to the hospital with potentially critical injuries. One was taken to the hospital with burns to the hands. The other was taken with smoke inhalation injuries.
Firefighters had to truck water in to help fight the fire because of water pressure and lack of hydrants in the area. Church goers had to go to the Andale High School auditorium for services.
It was a disturbing call for Andale native, Kim Eck.
“I was married in the church. Many people were married in the church. The whole community is very sad,” said Eck. “It’s just devastaging.”
Sedgwick County Fire Chief Tavis Leake said many crews responded to the scene, including Bentley, Colwich and Mount Hope.
Crews did manage to get the fire out with minimal interior damage.
Father Daryl Befort said they had future plans to remodel the church.
“We had been looking at possible interior renovations. We just had the new roof put on and all the windows redone. I was going to wait until January but I think the Good Lord wants us to do it sooner.”
According to the Sedgwick County Fire Department, damage is estimated at $1 million. Crews remain on scene Monday to monitor the structure and continue their investigation.