CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — A firefighter was injured while fighting an early morning church fire in the Fentress area of Chesapeake that investigators say was sparked by a direct lightning strike.
Officials say they were notified just after 2:06 a.m. for a fire at Gabriel Chapel A.M.E Zion Church in the 2200 block of Long Ridge Road.
Crews arrived on scene, and found heavy smoke and fire coming from the church. It was later dispatched as a second alarm. The fire was marked under control at 4:46 a.m.
The fire destroyed the historic Chesapeake church.
One firefighter was injured, but treated and released on scene for minor injuries.
Fire officials confirmed Friday afternoon that evidence gathered at the scene, and storm data from NOAA confirmed it was lightning that started the fire just before midnight.
The Chesapeake Fire Department helped church members retrieve the building’s church bell that had fallen from the bell tower during the fire and the last remaining stained glass window.
The scene is expected to remain active for the rest of the day, fire officials said.
Earlier this year, WAVY News 10 covered a vandalism at Gabriel Chapel church. Someone threw stones at the church, knocking out two of its stained glass windows.
The Pastor says she believes the overnight storm may have caused the fire, but would like a thorough investigation by Chesapeake Fire to make sure there is no foul play.
Stay with WAVY for updates.