Cobleskill church steeple damaged by fire

February 26, 2017 06:57 PM

COBLESKILL – Parishioners of the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church on East Main Street got together for Sunday morning service while still in shock after fire ripped through the church steeple on Saturday.

They were forced to worship in a different part of the church, away from the sanctuary with the fear the steeple could collapse from structural damage.

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“It's also very smokey in there,” said Pastor Sara Litzner. “You can smell it and breath it in and it causes a lot of coughing.”

Lightning struck the steeple during the storm Saturday, causing the fire. Litzner lives across the street and says it was a horrific scene.

"We went into the house to prepare to begin to eat dinner,” she said. “There was a loud crack of lightning.”

Litzner says firefighters didn't have a ladder high enough to reach the steeple, so the flames burned for about 12 hours before they were able to put them out.

“[Some of the firefighters] had tears in their eyes as they watched the flames just burn and they couldn't really do anything about it,” Litzner said.

They were able to contain it in the steeple area and no real damage to the sanctuary. The building has been there since 1682. It was established even before the village existed, according to Litzner. But she says the church is more than a building.

“If our building is gone, we're still going to be a church in this place despite whether we have a building or not,” Litzner said.

She's glad no one was injured. The work begins now to clean up and rebuild the steeple.


WNYT Staff

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