By Michael Strand

The Salina Journal

SOLOMON -- Father John Wolesky heard a "big bang" around 12:30 a.m. Sunday, but there was a storm passing through the area, and he went back to sleep.

Then about 4:30 a.m., he got up and was looking around the house when he heard his carbon monoxide detector beeping.

"It wasn't getting any power, and I was playing with that when the doorbell rang," said Wolesky, the priest at Immaculate Conception Church. "There was a young man I'd never seen before -- he told me his name, but I can't recall it -- saying he'd already called 9-1-1 and that we had a fire."

The Solomon Fire Department showed up within minutes, and called Saline County Fire District No. 5, which has a ladder truck that could reach the steeple, which "looked like Old Faithful."

The fire, apparently started by lightning, was confined to the top of the steeple and was out by 5:15 or so.

Wolesky said the steeple acted like a chimney, pulling smoke up, so there was no smoke damage in the building.

"There is some water damage, but it was confined to a pretty small area, thank God," he said. "It's a beautiful old church, probably the oldest in the county, and I'm glad we still have it."

(c)2014 The Salina Journal