Lightning strike destroys King of Kings statue

MONROE, Ohio - The famous King of Kings statue at the Solid Rock Church in Monroe is no longer aftera 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 ofthe statue was struck by lightning during the severe thunderstormsaround 11:15 p.m.

The only thing left of the 16,000 pound statue is the metalframe.

Monroe Fire Chief Mark Neu said the statue was fully involved infire when crews arrived.

Crews were able to use water from the pond in front of thestatue, however, the fire burned very quickly, according topolice.

The statue was grounded, but for some reason it did not absorbthe lightning strike.

"I never thought this would be vulnerable, it was a realtragedy," Chief Neu said.

Fire spread to the Lawrence Bishop Music Theateran, anamphitheater adjacent to the statue.

Chief Neu tells 9 News the fire also destroyed sound equipmentstored in the amphitheater.

"There was quite a bit of audio equipment in the amphitheaterthey were using to prepare for their Fourth of July celebration,"said Monroe Fire Chief Mark Neu. "They lost all thatequipment."

A Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper worked to prevent peoplefrom stopping along I-75.

The trooper said he asked more than 30 people to move from theside of the highway. Many tried to take photos of the remains ofthe statue.

One passerby captured video of the statue on fire and posted iton 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 expressingsympathy for the loss of the statue.

The King of Kings statue is believed to be the largest sculptureof Jesus Christ in the United States, according to the church.

King of Kings was constructed in 2004 at a cost of $250,000. Itwas designed by a Knoxville, Tennessee, artist, built inJacksonville, Florida, and transported to Monroe for assembly.Leaders of the 4,000 member congregation said they saw the statuteas a way to give people hope, not just impress them.

Church officials say the statue will be rebuilt and they will goforward with their July 4 celebration in a makeshift manner.