Lightning strike burns steeple of historic Florida church

A lightning strike is believed to have sparked a small fire at a historic church in Florida Wednesday afternoon as storms passed through the area, according to officials with the City of Ormond Beach.

In a Facebook post, the city wrote that lightning struck the Historic New Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, located at 115 S. Yonge Street, and ignited a fire in its steeple. A photograph accompanying the Facebook post appears to show the church's steeple burned.

The blaze was put out by the Ormond Beach Fire Department with assistance from the Daytona Beach Fire Department. No one was inside the church at the time of the lightning strike and subsequent fire, the city said in an updated post.

The Daytona Beach Fire Department shared its own video on its Facebook page. 

Photo credit: City of Ormond Beach/Facebook

"I got the call saying our church was on fire," said Rev. Floyd Narcisse, senior pastor at Historic New Bethel AME Church. "I was in shock. I was crying. Rushed over here, they told me that lightning hit my church."

Rev. Narcisse showed FOX 35 News the damage inside the church, with ceiling tiles falling in the sanctuary, likely from the hoses putting out the fire. Having damage in that room took an emotional toll on the pastor.

"My heart was beating, I was crying, but I had to calm down and say there’s a reason for this," Narcisse said. "There’s a blessing in everything. You’ve got to be strong for the congregation, you’ve got to be strong for the community, breathe in, breathe out, and let’s go to work."

Narcisse said the New Bethel AME Church's congregation has been around for over 140 years and was one of the first African American churches in the area. Organized in 1885, the foundations of the present-day church structure were laid in the early part of the last century, according to the church's website.  Construction was completed in 1955.

The steeple had to be replaced back in 2017 after hurricane damage. The pastor said another one could cost around $30,000.