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by Torie McCloy
High winds, lightning and rains that pounded the region late Monday ripped apart two trailers on Nurses Run Road in Doddridge County and caught the St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Philippi on fire.
Little was left of the trailers, said Tammy Beamer of the Doddridge County Emergency Squad. One structure was torn apart, while the other lost a roof. Both homes were believed to be vacant, Beamer said.
As of Tuesday evening, the National Weather Service in Charleston had yet to call the Doddridge windstorm a tornado. A representative from the weather service was in the region inspecting damage.
Meteorologist Ken Batty said several downed trees in many areas were signs of severe weather, but not a tornado.
Lightning struck the bell tower at St. Elizabeth and the Williams Building in downtown Philippi on Monday.
The bolt burned a hole through the tower and ceiling of the 14-year-old church, igniting a small fire. The bells were destroyed, said Father Damian Drass.
Most of the damage was electrical, with wires melted together. Some lights in the church won't go off, while others won't turn on, Drass said.
"It's a lot of heartache," he added. "But the fire, police and community was great. Everybody came to see what they could do to help. That part was beautiful."
Workers repaired the hole in the roof Tuesday. An electrician will be there today to assess the electrical damage.
The city-owned Williams Building, which houses the magistrates and the senior citizens center, did not catch fire. Lighting hit the top corner of the structure and split the bricks.
No injuries were reported from the high winds or the lightning.
Although scattered thunderstorms continued to pound the area Tuesday, Batty said the worst is over. The weather should be dry from today until Saturday with cooler temperatures in the mid-60s.
Batty said it will be a big change from the Labor Day weekend temperatures. Some area experienced temperatures in the mid-90s Sunday.
"We certainly changed weather. Sunday was the hottest day of the summer. Now we're talking the first hint of autumn," Batty said. "People might have to hunt for a light jacket"