Touchdown Jesus Statue before his battle with Zeus...
Touchdown Jesus after his battle with Zeus.
Lightning struck and ignited a fire late Monday that destroyed the $500,000 62-foot-tall statue of Jesus Christ with his arms stretched toward the skies, according to Monroe, Ohio police.
The only thing visible this morning is the charged frame of the structure.
“It burned to the ground. The whole statue is gone,” said Kim Peace, a police dispatcher.
The large “King of Kings” statue was a Butler County landmark since it was erected in 2004 outside Solid Rock Church, 904 N. Union Rd., along northbound Interstate 75 in Monroe just north of the Ohio 63 exit.
Fire crews were called to the church at 11:15 p.m. after several people phoned 911 to report the blaze as a severe thunderstorm swept through Greater Cincinnati, producing a spectacular lightning show, Peace said.
“The lightning was just amazing,” she said, wryly adding: “It was a lot of fun in here last night.”
When fire crews arrived, they found the statue fully involved and an adjacent amphitheater burning. The fire extended into the attic of the amphitheater, destroyed equipment, before fire crews contained it, Peace said.
No injuries were reported. Fire officials are expected to release a damage estimate after 10 a.m. Tuesday.
As fire gorged the iconic statue, several motorists along I-75 pulled over to photograph the sight.
That prompted troopers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol to respond and patrol the area to prevent a traffic jam and potential accidents, according to the patrol’s Lebanon post.
Church workers declined comment this morning, saying the pastors were up all night due to the fire and should talk to the media later.
The sculpture stretches 40 feet wide at the base. It was made of plastic form and fiberglass over a steel frame. The frame is the only thing visible this morning.
According to the evangelical church's website, there are about 4,000 members. The church was founded by former horse trader Lawrence and Darlene Bishop of Middletown.
Here's this video of it. I had nothing to do with the music choice: