MILLIGAN, FL. (WKRG) — A lightning strike likely caused a church fire in Northwest Florida Tuesday. Severe weather hit parts of Northwest Florida and Lower Alabama as a low pressure system headed into the Gulf. That system is expected to become a tropical disturbance and possibly Tropical Storm Barry.
Pastor Charles Smith is thankful no one was there when the fire started.
“You can replace just about everything,” he said. “You can’t replace a life.”
He and church members stood in the cemetery across the street watching it burn down Tuesday evening. Smith had just left to beat the storms rolling through when he got a call that the church was on fire.
“I left a little earlier than I usually would and that was the Lord working in my opinion,” he said.
The small church started on Old River Road in 1864 where the cemetery is then moved across the street in the 1950s to where it is now. The congregation is small with up to 60 people on its busiest Sundays.
Church members are staying positive including Ronald Peacock who’s been going to the church since 1952.
“God has a plan,” Peacock said. “It’s sad to see all of this but it’s going to work out. Things are going to be alright. It’s just a bump in the road.”
They plan to hold Wednesday night service at a church member’s house then Sunday, First Baptist Church of Baker has offered to let them have service there. Beyond that, they say they will take it a step at a time.
The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office posted pictures to Facebook saying, “sad to report a fire at First Baptist Church of Milligan. Traffic blocked on Old River Road from Hwy. 90 north to Garrett Mill Road. Possible lightning strike from the storm. “