King of Kings
Wednesday, June 16, 2010 -- A six-storey sculpture of Jesus Christ in a mid-western U.S. city was struck by lightning and burned to the ground, leaving only a blackened steel skeleton and pieces of foam that were scooped up by curious onlookers yesterday.
The King of Kings sculpture, one of southwest Ohio's most familiar landmarks, had stood since 2004 at the evangelical Solid Rock church along the Interstate 75 highway in Monroe, just north of Cincinnati.
The lightning strike set the sculpture ablaze around 11:15 pm on Monday night, Monroe police said.
The sculpture, about 19 metres (62 feet) tall and 12 metres wide at the base, showed the figure of Jesus from the torso up and was nicknamed Touchdown Jesus because of the way the arms were raised, similar to a referee signalling a touchdown in American football. It was made of plastic foam and fibreglass over a steel frame, which was all that remained yesterday.
The fire spread from the sculpture to an adjacent amphitheatre but was confined to the attic, and no one was injured, police chief Mark Neu said.
Damage from the fire was estimated at $700,000; $300,000 for the sculpture alone and $400,000 for the amphitheatre, fire station officer Richard Mascarella said.
Some people were scooping up pieces of the sculpture's foam from the nearby pond to take home with them, said Darlene Bishop, a church co-pastor. "This meant a lot to a lot of people," she said.