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Lightning strike sets Point Pleasant apartment building ablaze

Posted at 12:55 AM, Jun 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-06 01:07:21-04

Wednesday’s thunderstorms sent roiling clouds and racing winds across much of the Tri-State, felling trees and knocking out power to more than 4,000 Duke Energy customers in the process.

The worst damage, however, might have been on Queensway Drive, where a bolt of lightning set Saratoga Place Apartments on fire.

Tenant Brandon Hearld, who helped evacuate his neighbors, said he was lucky to notice it right away.

He called 911 first. Then, worrying firefighters wouldn’t arrive in time, he ran inside.

“I literally pounded on each door as hard as I could, telling everybody, ‘Out, out! Fire!’” he said.

Hearld wasn’t the only person helping. Rodney Suiter, who spotted the flames from the next building over, led another evacuation effort there. As he raced up the stairs, wiring inside the apartments caught fire, too.

“(Sparks were) bouncing off my hat, my coat,” Suiter said. “I took my hat off, brushing my hair, making sure I wasn’t on fire.”

One person was hospitalized after the fire, according to Point Pleasant fire Capt. Chuck Rice. Over a dozen more were safely evacuated but displaced as they awaited a complete assessment of the damage.