Heavy thunderstorms rolled through Effingham County late Wednesday afternoon and lightning is believed to responsible for starting a fire that has displaced three Rincon families.
According to Rincon Fire Chief Corey Rahn, lightning may have hit a pine tree just behind building 1 in the Pine Manor Apartment complex off West 9th Street.
“It appears that lightning jumped from the tree to the roof vent or to the copper tubing in the air conditioning,” he said.
The fire damaged half the building but smoke damage affected the entire building. He said they fought the fire with the aid of county and Springfield units and had it under control in about 45 minutes. The fire was found between the first and second floors in the void in the truss work.
“That’s where it began before it traveled up the wall,” said Chief Rahn.
The first attack team that went in looked in the attic without any luck. Then they started pulling ceilings and found the fire, just before the flames began shooting out of the roof.
Amanda Moone, an 11th grader at Effingham County High School, was at home in 1A when the fire broke out.
“I just heard a loud pop,” she said, “and then saw smoke coming downstairs and ran out. I just took my book bag and that’s all I got.”
Her mother, April Wilson, arrived on the scene just minutes later and both were sobbing as they watched in the rain as the firefighters worked on the fire. Ms. Wilson said they had just moved in at the end of June.
Denise Lancaster, apartment manager, said that although the complex carries insurance for the buildings, tenants’ personal property is not covered.
Local Red Cross officials were called and were onsite working with the displaced families.
Al Lucas, Red Cross local volunteer disaster team captain, said anyone wishing to help these families or others in the area could call the local Red Cross office at (912) 651-5300. Any donations meant to go to specific disasters or families should be marked as such.
Before the storm blew over, high winds also blew a tree onto a power line on North Howard Avenue and one of the county fire units headed over to control that situation on their way back to Springfield.
Some areas received as much as 4 inches of rain, according to AccuWeather.