July 5, 2013

Lightning starts Augusta fire, leaving 14 homeless

All the apartment house occupants are evacuated without injury after the lightning bolt strikes.

By BETTY ADAMS Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA – Investigators on Friday were back at the scene of a Washington Street apartment house fire apparently triggered by lightning Thursday night.

All the apartment occupants were evacuated without injury about 6:45 p.m. Thursday, shortly after neighbors reported a loud clap of thunder and a close lightning strike.

Four firefighters from Augusta, Hallowell, Winthrop and Togus were treated at MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta for heat exhaustion. Firefighters were on the scene until midnight.

"At the station we could see the lightning bolt hit," said Deputy Fire Chief David Groder, "and the fire call came in shortly afterward."

He said the property manager said 14 people lived in the six-unit building at 62 Washington St.

On Friday, the first and second-floor porches were blackened. Ceilings and windows in the apartments appeared heavily damaged by the blaze. Groder pointed to a utility pole that caught fire, and said the blaze apparently triggered all the circuit breakers in the apartment building.

He said he expected the rear of the 1816 building, which appeared largely undamaged, will be habitable once electrical lines are inspected and restored.

An investigator from the State Fire Marshal's Office was expected at the scene as well.

 

Betty Adams can be reached at 621-5631, or

badams@centralmaine.com

 

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