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Historic Southern Illinois church struck by lightning

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HOYLETON, IL (KTVI)-- An historic church in Southern Illinois was struck down by Mother Nature overnight and it`s not the first time.

The Zion United Church of Christ dates back to the 1800s.

The pastor says they believe it was lightning that struck during Wednesday night’s storm causing a fire to smolder in the rafters for several hours before erupting into a terrifying inferno.

L.D. Kretzer was on his way home from a late night of work when he saw the first signs of trouble.

After calling for help, he shot dramatic video as the small fire quickly grew to a monster. The flames consumed the bell tower before it finally crashed to the ground below.

From the outside, the structure looks scorched and unstable. But inside, most of the damage is from the water and not from the flames.

And this isn`t the first time Mother Nature has taken a shot a this church. The original building was destroyed in a storm just one night after construction was completed.

Pastor Howard Self says no decision has been made about whether to tear the church down or make repairs.

The congregation, which numbers between 30 and 40, has already found a place for this weekend’s services. They will be heading down the road to the Hoyleton Youth and Family Services building.