Lightning strikes Jonesboro church burning it to ground during storm

A church in Clayton County burned to the ground after lightning hit it in Sunday night's storms.

"Mother Nature is a powerful thing. And lightning strikes, when they do often hit structures such as this, often times it's pretty devastating," Tim Sweat, Interim Director with Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services, explained.

Staff members at Iglesia de Dios Pentecostal Church on Flint River Road couldn't believe it when they saw what remained of the building after Sunday's storms.

Image 1 of 6

Iglesia de Dios Pentecostal Church on Flint River Road on Aug. 7, 2023.

"When they gave me the news yesterday, it felt like a bucket of cold water from my head to my feet," Pastor Elfris Cortez Guerra said.

Officials say lightning struck the roof of the church. The force of the impact knocked the steeple to the ground.

"The sheer fire load in the attic, the timbers, insulations and the fire simply just walked from the front of the church, to the back. As a result, the entire building was deemed a complete loss," Sweat explained.

Image 1 of 2

Iglesia de Dios Pentecostal Church on Flint River Road burned down after being hit by lightning during severe weather on Aug. 6, 2023.

It took firefighters three and a half hours to get the fire under control. Josue Cortez says his brother was inside moments before the lightning struck.

"Glory be to God, he actually had to step out," Cortez said. "The wifi, of all things, went out causing him to have to step out, and thank God. Because of that, he wasn't here where it actually struck right above the media room where he was located."

As they work to rebuild, the county will be allowing the church to hold services every Tuesday and Sunday at the Flint River Community center.

Image 1 of 2

Iglesia de Dios Pentecostal Church

"God-willing," Cortez said. "We have faith that everything is going to be okay."

Georgia sees some of the highest amount of lightning strikes in the county. According to the weather and environmental data tracking group, Vaisala Xweather, Georgia saw the 8th highest amount of lightning among all U.S. states in 2022.