Polonia, WI Lightning Strikes Church, Mar 1934
POLONIA CHURCH BURNS; LOSS $125,000.
BELIEVE BOLT OF LIGHTNING STRUCK STEEPLE IN NIGHT WHILE SNOW STORM RAGED.
FIRE DISCOVERED THIS MORNING BY JANITOR ENVELOPES SACRED HEART STRUCTURE, DESTROYING ALL BUT THE WALLS.
Sacred Heart church at Polonia, largest rural Polish church in Wisconsin and a landmark of Portage county, was in ruins today, the result of fire which swept through it this morning and caused a loss estimated at $125,000. Only the brick walls and stone work remain standing, and little was saved from the interior.
The church is believed to have been struck by a bolt of lightning during a blizzard and snow storm last night. Snow and sleet swept out of the north while flashes of lightning lighted up the sky and thunder rumbled. A lightning bolt, it is thought, struck the steeple, towering up 165 feet from the ground, and started a blaze which smouldered undetected during the remainder of the night. The paster REV. LEO JANKOWSKI, said this morning he believed that the church may have been struck twice during the freak storm.
The fire was discovered by JOHN MALLEK, janitor of the church who lives next door to the church property. He had arisen early, as was his custom, and shortly before 7 o'clock walked toward the church to ring the angelus. Looking upward as he scanned the sky, and church, he discovered that the steeeple was smoking. MALLEK ran to the parsonage of Father JANKOWSKI, across the road from the church, and notified the pastor.
Father JANKOWSKI entered the church, then thick with smoke, and procured the Blessed Sacrament and the contents of the tabernacle in the altar. Nothing else was saved excepting a few other articles rescued by men of the neighborhood who arrived at the scene shortly afterward.
The firemen, upon their arrival at Polonia from Stevens Point, over a sleet covered highway, found the fire enveloping the church and flames shooting from 15 to 20 feet above the roof. There was nothing the firemen could do to save the church or check the flames, but they stood by for nearly an hour to protect other nearby property in event it caught on fire.
The church was constructed in 1902 under the pastorate of the late REV. THOMAS GRENBOWSKI. The congregation is entirely free of debt, having paid off the last of an indebtedness three years ago.
Stevens Point Daily Journal Wisconsin 1934-03-17