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Lightning suspected cause of Jefferson Co. house fires

June 03, 2006|by ROBERT SNYDER

HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. - More than 60 firefighters from three states worked for more than an hour Thursday to put out a fire in a Jefferson County house that might have been struck by lightning, according to a Harpers Ferry fire official.

Steve Wilt, fire chief of the Friendship Volunteer Fire and Ambulance Co., said firefighters from Loudoun County, Va. and Washington and Frederick counties in Maryland assisted all five Jefferson County volunteer fire companies in battling a blaze at 265 Prospect Ave. in Bolivar Heights that caused about $250,000 damage to a two-story house.

Wilt said the fire, which started about 6:45 p.m., resulted in heavy damage to two lower-level and two upper-level rooms and completely destroyed the basement.

He said the fire might have been caused by lightning from heavy storms in the area Thursday afternoon, which might have been the source of other fires in the Charles Town area.

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"Our engines were out on three other calls for lightning strikes," said Wilt, adding the fire might have started in the basement of the house.

Wilt, who described the house as an older model residence, said no one was at home when the fire broke out. The fire was brought under control around 8 p.m., and firefighters remained at the scene until around midnight, Wilt said.

Firefighters from the Citizens and Independent fire companies also were sent to a mobile home fire at 63 Cambridge Drive in Charles Town, Citizens Fire Co. Chief Steve Anderson said.

Firefighters also were called to a fire at a home on Daniels Road that is believed to have started when lightning apparently struck an air handler and came into the house through a dryer vent, Anderson said. The homeowner was home at the time, and damage was not extensive, he said.

A fire marshal has been requested to investigate the Bolivar Heights blaze due to the amount of property damage, Wilt said.

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