Church Damaged at Owatonna
The First Baptist Church at Owatonna, Minn., was recently damaged by a bolt of lightning that travelled down from the steeple’s top, ripping the steeple and tower to its skeleton and causing tons of brick and woodwork to fall to the ground, a distance of more than a hundred feet, and setting fire to the baptismal of the church directly beneath the large pipe organ. Children in the school houses, only thirty feet from the church, were temporarily stunned by the shock of lightning. The falling debris did not harm the school building except to break a few panes of glass. A post office official entered the church after the lightning and put out the fire where it started. Chief E. M. Twiford and the department took precautionary measures to prevent further fire. Inside the church, the lightning ran through several rooms and destroyed the electric wiring and the electric light switches are melted. Travelling to the rear of the building it shattered all the windows and bored a hole through the brick wall. Scorching the wall in several places it traveled into the metal baptismal where it started the fire. The baptismal located beneath the pipe organ evidently served as a conductor and carried the current to the leaves and draperies. The flames had burned only inside the metal structure when they were extinguished, saving the pipe organ. The damage to the church was estimated between $4,500 and $5,000.