Lightning Sparks Fire At Independence Auto Dealership
A lightning strike apparently sparked a fire that damaged an auto dealership in Independence early Tuesday morning (May 9, 2017).
Firefighters were called to Rydell of Independence shortly before 1 a.m. Assistant fire chief Rick Wulfekuhle said a woman who lives across the street first smelled, then spotted, the smoke when she arrived home from work and dialed 911.
According to Wulfekuhle, heavy smoke was billowing from the eaves on the north side of the building when crews arrived at the scene. Wulfekuhle said the blaze was under control in about 45 minutes, but some firefighters remained at the scene throughout the night to monitor hot spots.
"In my opinion, the body shop is a total loss," Wulfekuhle stated. He said a cement block wall prevented the flames from spreading, but the rest of the building sustained smoke damage. No injuries were reported.
According to Wulfekuhle, a skeleton crew of firefighters were at the dealership for nearly nine hours. The state fire marshal arrived around 10 a.m. to help determine the cause.
Wulfekuhle confirmed that the investigation revealed the fire was storm-related. He said lightning hit the north side of the building, where the smoke was initially spotted.