Posted by Braden Walker - email
MONROE, OH (FOX19) - An iconic and massive statue of Jesus in Monroe, OH was destroyed after being struck by lightning Monday night.
The six-story statue was a well-known landmark on Interstate 75 since 2004, and was called "King of Kings" by members of Solid Rock Church, where it stood.
The lightning strike set the statue ablaze just after 11 p.m., Monroe police dispatchers said.
The 62-foot tall and 40-foot wide statue weighing 16,000 pounds quickly became engulfed in flames after the lightning strike. Fire crews were on the scene for several hours to put out the fire, but no one was injured.
The statue, also nicknamed "Touchdown Jesus" because of the way its arms were outstretched, is made out of wood and Styrofoam. The statue also had a steel frame anchored in concrete and fiberglass. The steel frame was all that remained after the fire. According to 911 calls, the lightning struck the right hand of the statue.
The fire spread to the attic of an adjacent amphitheater, but no other buildings at the church were affected. Fire chief Mark Neu says the fire caused $700,000 in damage to the statue and amphitheater. Neu says he believes the church has insurance.
The statue was scheduled to undergo a new paint job this summer after suffering some wear and tear during the harsh winter.
The pastor of Solid Rock Church says the church does plan to rebuild the statue.
Travelers on Interstate 75 often were startled to come upon the huge statue by the roadside, but many said America needs more symbols like it. So many people stopped at the church campus that church officials had to build a walkway to accommodate them.
The 4,000-member, nondenominational church was founded by former horse trader Lawrence Bishop and his wife. Bishop said in 2004 he was trying to help people, not impress them, with the statue. He said his wife proposed the Jesus figure as a beacon of hope and salvation and they spent about $250,000 to finance it.
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