March 31, 2014 in City

Lightning blasts hole in roof of chapel

Doug Esser Associated Press

SEATTLE – A man and woman singing in a chapel screamed “like bloody murder” when lightning blasted a hole in the roof and showered them with sparks and debris, a witness practicing with the two said Sunday.

An explosion opened a 2-foot hole in the building at Bethany Community Church on Saturday afternoon, but no one was hurt and no fire was ignited, officials said.

“It was terrifying,” said worship intern Lucas Pulver, who first thought he was responsible for the blast at the church in the Green Lake neighborhood of Seattle.

He was in the balcony, where he just plugged in a keyboard and struck a chord, when lightning hit.

“Sparks and flames are falling down above the cross,” Pulver said.

The 24-year-old Seattle musician feared it may have been something electrical related to the keyboard.

“We thought we had blown something,” he said. “It sounded like a bomb.”

Drywall dust and other pieces of the ceiling fell on the stage where the man and woman were standing.

“They were screaming like bloody murder – as loud as they could,” Pulver said. “I thought something had fallen on them.”

The group realized that lightning must have struck, which Seattle firefighters confirmed. While rain is common in Seattle, thunderstorms with lightning are rare.

Firefighters sealed the hole and searched the building for hot spots.

While there was no fire, the strike knocked out electricity and Internet service in the building, said Phil Maulding, one of the pastors.

The chapel is used for a video service for an overflow crowd on Sundays when the church holds services for nearly 3,000 people. The main building on the Bethany campus accommodated the church members Sunday, he said.

Pulver said the group will still perform “Sinking Deep,” the song they were practicing when the lightning hit.

“It’s a song about Christ’s love,” he said. “Maybe that was approval of that song.”

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