Ashes littered the altar Thursday at Elmhurst Christian Reformed Church as Rev. Bert DeJong tried to assess the damage wrought by a bolt of lightning the night before.
DeJong had risen at 6:30 a.m. for his morning run when his wife Celia smelled smoke. He looked out the window to see flames shooting high into the morning sky from the 25-foot metal steeple.
Elmhurst Deputy Fire Chief John Burn said it took about 85 firefighters from Oak Brook, Oakbrook Terrace, Villa Park, Westmont and Berkeley to put out the flames. Burn speculated that a bolt of lighting hit the church during an early morning storm and was smoldering for hours before the flames became apparent at morning's light.