published Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Lightning ignites duplex fire in Chattanooga

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Lightning from a severe thunderstorm passing over Chattanooga this afternoon started a fire at a duplex, authorities said.

Nathan Shropshire told firefighters that, as the storm passed overhead about 2 p.m., he heard what sounded like a powerful explosion at the rear of the duplex, located at 4701 Murray Lake Lane, said Bruce Garner, spokesman for the Chattanooga Fire Department.

Moments later, Shropshire began to smell smoke and he and his girlfriend got out of the apartment uninjured, Garner said.

Lt. Greg Murray with the city fire department said smoke was visible from the rear of the structure when the first firefighters arrived. The fire was under control within minutes and contained to the rear of the duplex, Murray said, but there was smoke and water damage to other rooms.

Captain Lesley Morgan, a trained fire investigator, said the fire was most likely caused by lightning.

The family that lives on the other side of the duplex was reportedly away at the time, Garner said.

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