Bolt from the heavens
A LIGHTNING strike which started a fire at the Seventh-Day Adventist Church complex in Mullumbimby is a sign there is a God after all, according to the local Pastor.
"It's a wonderful blessing from God because only minor damage occurred and it could have been so much worse," said Pastor Cranville Tooley.
It's believed lightning hit an antenna on top of a warehouse adjoining the church sometime before 2.30am on Tuesday.
Neighbour Kris Rummery said she heard an almighty bang as the sky lit up over Mullumbimby.
"There was a whistling noise through the air and a kaboom, like a huge bang," Mrs Rummery said.
"It was like a bomb going off - but it was ear-shatteringly loud."
Ms Rummery said the charge in the air made her partner's hair stand on end when he went to the back door to look outside.
"All his hair was standing in a circle around his head and every hair on our bodies was standing on end because there was so much electricity," Mrs Rummery explained.
Ms Rummery described "an acrid horrible smell like sulphur" before seeing smoke "billowing" from a building adjoining the church.
The couple called 000 and four fire crews from Mullumbimby, Brunswick Heads and Goonellabah took 40 minutes to bring the fire under control.
The church warehouse, which contains clothing stocks for its opportunity shop, was destroyed in the blaze.
The library below the warehouse has also been affected by minor water, fire and heat damage.
The smell of acrid smoke still hung in the air yesterday as opportunity shop manager Faye King began to clean up racks of charred and smoke-stained clothing.
"It's pretty devastating because it's all the stock we use in the shop is all lost," Ms King said.
Ms King said its ironic the opportunity store has been damaged days before they are due to give away $69,000 in sales from the opportunity shop to community groups such as Hope Haven Women's Refuge in Ballina.
"But we'll be right," said Ms King.
"It could have been a whole lot worse if it wasn't for the good response of the neighbours and the fire brigade.
"So I think we're really blessed it didn't go any further."