Lightning Opens Portal to Hell in St. Louis Cemetery (VIDEO)


Are you in there, Satan? - PHOTO COURTESY OF JIM PROBST
  • Photo Courtesy of Jim Probst
  • Are you in there, Satan?

Jim Probst heard the crack of lighting around 2 a.m. Wednesday, but it wasn't until he left his home in south St. Louis' Boulevard Heights neighborhood around 6 a.m. to walk the dog that he spotted a column of smoke rising above the nearby Sts. Peter & Paul Cemetery.

Intrigued, Probst left the dog in his backyard and followed the smoke into the sprawling Catholic cemetery. He came to a smoldering tree, the site of the lightning strike hours before.

The trunk looked like it had been slashed twice by a giant's sword, and while the tree was certainly on fire, it was also ... not. There were no flames. A gaping hole at the base of the trunk glowed red like a furnace, belching smoke into the overcast sky.

Probst pulled out his phone. This is what he saw.

"What I noticed immediately, walking up to the tree, was all the bark that was everywhere. It was as if the tree had exploded," says Probst. A sales associate at Fox River dairy, his home is only a few hundred feet from the venerable cemetery.

"Exploded" is the right word. When lightning strikes a tree, the intense heat brings the subsurface moisture — whether sap or water — to an immediate boil. The steam expands and detonates the tree from the inside, either shattering the trunk or blasting bark shrapnel in all directions.

What could account for that eerie dark glow in the trunk, though? Probst theorizes that the strong storm winds kept the fire from expanding outward. The heat had to go somewhere.

"It was like stoked coals. It was smoldering, felt like a big campfire," Probst says. "By my own observation, I assumed that a large part of the hole hadn’t necessarily been blown out, but had been cooking since two in the morning."

At least, that's the scientific theory. We can't help but think it looks like something straight out of a horror movie — a dimensional rift to hell.

By Wednesday afternoon, the scarred tree still stood in the heart of the cemetery. Strips of bark lay scattered around its base. It appeared that the fire  burrowed deep into the tree, leaving a coal-lined enclosure large enough to climb inside. Will the tree survive? The cemetery office didn't return our calls seeking comment; it's hard to say.

During his evening walk yesterday, Probst took the dog back to the cemetery. He wanted to get another look at the tree that did not burn.

  • Photo by Danny Wicentowski
  • Photo by Danny Wicentowski

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at [email protected]

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