MONROE, Ohio - The famous King of Kings statue at the Solid Rock Church in Monroe is no longer after a fire destroyed the popular landmark Monday night.
The 62-foot tall statue of Jesus constructed out of styrofoam, wood and fiberglass resin caught on fire after the right hand of the statue was struck by lightning during the severe thunderstorms around 11:15 p.m.
The only thing left of the 16,000 pound statue is the metal frame.
Monroe Fire Chief Mark Neu said the statue was fully involved in fire when crews arrived.
Crews were able to use water from the pond in front of the statue, however, the fire burned very quickly, according to police.
The statue was grounded, but for some reason it did not absorb the lightning strike.
"I never thought this would be vulnerable, it was a real tragedy," Chief Neu said.
Fire spread to the Lawrence Bishop Music Theateran, an amphitheater adjacent to the statue.
Chief Neu tells 9 News the fire also destroyed sound equipment stored in the amphitheater.
"There was quite a bit of audio equipment in the amphitheater they were using to prepare for their Fourth of July celebration," said Monroe Fire Chief Mark Neu. "They lost all that equipment."
A Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper worked to prevent people from stopping along I-75.
The trooper said he asked more than 30 people to move from the side of the highway. Many tried to take photos of the remains of the statue.
One passerby captured video of the statue on fire and posted it on YouTube just after 1:30 a.m. You can watch that video below.
No injuries were reported.
The damage done to the statue and church is estimated at $700,000.
The church has received calls from all over the world expressing sympathy for the loss of the statue.
The King of Kings statue is believed to be the largest sculpture of Jesus Christ in the United States, according to the church.
King of Kings was constructed in 2004 at a cost of $250,000. It was designed by a Knoxville, Tennessee, artist, built in Jacksonville, Florida, and transported to Monroe for assembly. Leaders of the 4,000 member congregation said they saw the statute as a way to give people hope, not just impress them.
Church officials say the statue will be rebuilt and they will go forward with their July 4 celebration in a makeshift manner.
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