A lightning strike was blamed for fire that destroyed an 18-unit apartment building in Bettendorf, Iowa.
The strike happened at about 2:30 p.m. Monday, August 25, 2014 at a building in the 1000 block of 39th Street, according to a spokesperson for the Bettendorf Fire Department. That strike ignited combustible material in the attic of the building, which smoldered until it caught fire. Visible flames were reported just after 10:30 p.m.
“It smelled like something very subtle like you had put out a candle or something like that,” said Matt Butchko, a resident in the building. “People started banging on my door saying, ‘get out there’s a fire,’ and I’m right on the end [of the building] so it was pretty easy to see the fire.”
Firefighters arrived to see fire burning through the roof at the west end of the building.
Fourteen of the 18 apartments in the building were occupied, and everyone evacuated safely. No injuries were reported. The fire was quickly extinguished.
The building was later declared condemned, the fire department spokesperson said, as damage from the fire was estimated at $400,000.
The American Red Cross was helping the displaced residents and most have found a place to stay.