Lightning-fueled fire destroys Raleigh apartments

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- On Thursday night, a Raleigh fire battalion chief confirmed to ABC11 that a lightning strike caused another fire at a west Raleigh apartment complex.

The chief says the lightning sparked the blaze sometime before 8:30 p.m. It hit a top unit in the 4100 block of the Villages of Lake Boone Trail Apartments.

Four engine companies, two ladder trucks and rescue unit arrived within minutes. It was about 30 firefighters in all.

The chief said the flames were relatively small, but they did quite a bit of damage to the attic of the top unit. The unit below suffered water damage.

An eyewitness said he and his daughter were standing outside when lightning struck the building.

That's when Larry Beauchamp said his two sons -- 24 and 26 year olds -- jumped into action to try to help evacuate people before first responders got here.

"All of the sudden, lightning came, hit the top and you heard a loud explosion, and then there was fire and smoke," said Beauchamp. "So we ran out because my sons ran out. They were going to make sure no one was hurt. So they hit the windows on the side, broke the windows out, a rush of smoke came out, and they were banging the windows trying to get the door open."

Those two young men suffered the only reported injuries. One suffered cuts and gashes from the broken glass. The other was treated for smoke inhalation.

Both were transported to the hospital for treatment.

The fire displaced seven people. None of them were hurt.

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