A close-up look at the lightning damage in the IHM church dome

Cary Toaso, a photojournalist and satellite truck operator with WTAE-TV, just shared some amazing photographs with us of the inside of the very top section of the dome of the Immaculate Heart of Mary church, where the lightning hit on Tuesday.  These photographs were taken by WTAE-TV chief photographer TJ Haught.

The lightning hit the structure that sits atop the largest dome, so high up that it’s not easily visible from the ground. The domes are wood, covered with copper sheathing, so most of the damage was on the inside.

The structure is accessed by a wooden ladder.

Here’s the hole where the lightning struck, and the charred timbers.

A closeup of the hole, and the torn copper sheathing.

A closeup of the burnt timbers.  The timbers are over a hundred years old.

Rubble on the floor.  The photo is blurry because the space is small and dark.

Two views of the ladder, looking down.  The firefighters had to climb this ladder to extinguish the fire.  The arched openings are the ones the firemen were standing in, as seen in our post from Tuesday.

A resident behind the church who witnessed the lightning strike told us that it happened around 4:30.  No one saw smoke until about 5:30.  Considering how long the fire smoldered before it was noticed, it’s amazing there wasn’t more damage.  It could have been a lot worse, and we’re very grateful that it wasn’t.