FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – People were stunned at the sight they were seeing when a lightning bolt struck the St. Mary’s Church 30 years ago Saturday.

WANE 15 went back into the archives to see the historic event that took place September 2, 1993. The fire began when lightning hit the church’s steeple. Rain continued to fall, and firefighters fought for more than four hours. Many community members that relied on the soup kitchen watched in disbelief. The soup kitchen at the church served nearly 600 community members who were in need of a meal. WANE 15 spoke to folks who remember the fire just like it was yesterday.

“Total disbelief,” said Jane Wick, longtime parishioner. “I thought possibly they made a mistake and then I kept getting calls and I realized this was actually happening and of course then just intense sorrow.”

“It was a loss of a place that we built a community in, and it was a beautiful old building, and it was someplace that was just really you know close to our hearts,” explained Rosemary Mausser, longtime member of the St. Mary’s Church.

The fire in 1993 isn’t the only major tragedy for the church. In 1886, Saint Mary’s was destroyed in an explosion that killed two people. The church that stands today is the fourth building on that same site.

The community and city worked tirelessly to get a new St. Mary’s Church to rise from the ashes. The present building was dedicated on May 2, 1999.