St. Paul’s lightning-damaged spire fixed

Published 7:44 pm Monday, July 19, 2010

SELMA — The parishioners of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church no longer have to worry about a 400-pound concrete spire falling from its perch atop the bell tower, 120-feet in the air.

A crew from Yeargan Construction worked Monday morning to repair the damage caused by a May 28 lightning strike to the church’s bell tower.

The bells themselves will ring again soon.

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“It was only a minor inconvenience,” church rector David Powell said. “We went a couple of weeks without an organ and some computers in our office were damaged. The bells are fine, but the circuit that relays the signal to the bells is still being worked on. It should be back soon.”

Powell said a total cost for the repairs has not yet been determined.

Chuck Yeargan, owner of Yeargan Construction, said the spire was “hanging by a crumb” after the strike, which he said was due to the lightning rod having fallen to the side.

“The rod is connected to a wire that transmits the current into the ground,” Yeargan said. “We’re repairing the wiring, and putting the bricks back in place.”

Yeargan said much of the work was done on the ground and hoisted up because he could not get a mason to work that high off the ground.

Yeargan said he worked on the church when the same spire was struck by lightning 20 years ago.

He went to the church Thursday to assess the damage, but waited until Monday for the repairs to use a full crew. Yeargan said he had to custom make a scaffold rig to fit over the spire so two people could work at the same time.

The scaffold was suspended from a crane and lowered over the spire so workers could make the repairs.

The original bricks from the building were taken down, cleaned and put back in place to preserve the building’s appearance.

“We wanted to keep the appearance the same,” Yeargan said. “And you can’t find brick like that any more.”

According to the church’s website, the bricks were handmade on site during construction. The site said the church was built from 1871-1875 after the original building was burned during the Civil War.