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Updated: 8:49 a.m. Wednesday, June 16, 2010 | Posted: 4:29 a.m. Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Solid Rock Prepares To Rebuild Jesus Statue

By Mike Campbell

MONROE, Ohio —

A six-story statue of Jesus Christ with his arms raised along Interstate 75 was struck by lightning in a thunderstorm Monday night, causing it to burn to the ground.

The "King of Kings" statue has stood since 2004 at the evangelical Solid Rock Church along I-75 at Route 63 in Monroe, just south of Dayton. Now, church officials said the statue will be rebuilt.

From DDN:Police Ticketing Interstate Drivers Stopping To See Jesus Statue Remains MONROE: Burned Jesus Statue To Be Rebuilt MONROE: Jesus Statue Struck By Lightning iW7 Raw Video: Jesus Statue Fire DDN: 911 Call

Monroe firefighters said the lightning strike set the statue on fire around 11:15 p.m. Monday. Firefighters said at their tallest, the flames reached 100 feet.

The sculpture, which stands 62 feet tall, showed Jesus from the torso up and was nicknamed "Touchdown Jesus" by some because of the way his arms were raised.

Church members said the lightning strike and destructive fire stunned them. Many of them thought it was a sign they need to pay attention to.

Kevin Jones said, "I'm thinking it's a sign from Jesus that we need to learn something, as Christians, as a whole, we're not doing something right."

Ashley Morgan said, "It scares me, it really does, I think about what that symbolizes, to me that's a sign and not a good one."

Monroe Fire Chief Mark Neu said the fire spread to an amphitheater that sits next to the statue, causing heavy damage to the attic area. He said no one was injured.

The Monroe fire department requested mutual aid from Middletown and Clearcreek and Liberty Townships, and they managed to contain the fire in the attic of the amphitheater, but were unable to save the statue.

Officials said the structure's outer shell was made of wood and Styrofoam, covered in fiberglass and resin, making it extremely flammable.

The statue cost $500,000 when it was put in place in 2004. It was built in Florida and transported to the church in pieces and then assembled. It took about 8,000 man hours for the development and installation.

Church officials said the statue weighed eight tons, which is about 16,000 pounds.

However, Neu said that church officials, "Plan to replace the statue, make sure they have back what they put up, that's their intent, what they told me tonight."

Damage to the statue and the amphitheater is estimated at $700,000.

Our partners at the Dayton Daily News said Monroe Fire Chief Mark Neu said Monroe church officials have been getting calls from across the United States and as far away as China.

“People all across the world have looked at this,” he said.


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