A lightning strike ignited a roof fire that destroyed a historic Catholic church in Rockford, Illinois, and wounded three firefighters

Authorities say a lightning strike ignited a roof fire Monday that seriously damaged a historic Catholic church in Rockford, Illinois, and wounded three firefighters.

The Rockford Fire Department found that lightning caused the roof fire, according to Mike Rotolo, the department’s coordinator for fire prevention, who told CNA on Tuesday. He said that the damage to the church may surpass $3 million.

Monday, the city’s construction department erected a yellow notice outside the church that said “Condemned: Do Not Enter,” according to Rotolo. This indicates that the structure cannot be used in its present state, he added.

The church is situated in the far northern portion of the state, outside of the Chicago metropolitan region. The church was blessed for the first time in 1853, according to the parish website.

The Diocese of Rockford said in a statement that the fire broke out before 7 a.m. on August 8. The diocese uploaded a video on its Facebook page depicting the response of firemen to the incident.

According to the diocese, no one was inside the church at the time of the incident, and the priest safely withdrew the Holy Eucharist from the structure.

Three responding firefighters sustained non-life-threatening injuries, according to a tweet from the fire department.

“Bishop David Malloy extends his profound gratitude to all the first responders, the vigilant neighbors, and all those around the diocese who have offered prayers during this extremely sad and unfortunate event,” the diocese’s statement said.

“Prayers are also being offered for those three courageous firefighters reported to have sustained injuries while fighting this fire,” the statement added.

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