MONROE — A Monroe independent living facility was struck four times by lightning when it caught fire Aug. 13 and forced the evacuation of 69 residents, WCPO's media partner, The Journal-News reported.
The fire investigation report released Thursday by the Monroe Fire Department listed damages at $2.75 million to the contents and three-story Mount Pleasant Place building, 210 Britton Lane, which is part of the Mount Pleasant Retirement Village.
The report completed by Fire Chief John Centers said, “Witness accounts reflect the flash of lightning, a significant ‘tremor’ to the building, and the feeling of static electricity present. Residents indicate the fire alarm did activate, alerting them of the fire.”
“A Strikenet report generated by Travelers Insurance indicates with 99 percent certainty that the building was struck four times… ,” the report said.
Strikenet used lightning detection technology to pinpoint the number the number of hits the building sustained.
Those inside the building at the time said they saw the flash of lightning and felt a significant tremor and static electricity.
He said while visuals of the structure were hampered by extreme smoke conditions early in the fire, it is likely that the building strike(s) occurred in/on the roof structure, igniting roofing materials, structural members and insulation. Centers also said that the weather conditions continued to create wind conditions that elevated the spread of the fire.
The exact location of the lightning strike is difficult to surmise due to the extensive damage, as well as the collapse conditions on the third floor. Firefighters noted a “low burn” pattern adjacent to the elevator shaft on the third floor, he said.
The report said the building has a suppression system with sprinklers throughout the three floors, with the third floor operating on a dry system. He said the attic space does not have a suppression system and said the collapse of the attic space into the third floor would have also affected the capabilities of the suppression system covering that floor.
Centers recently said the fire could have produced more serious injuries if not for quick action and support by many in the area, including residents from the surrounding neighborhoods converging to help evacuate residents, many of which were ambulatory.
More than 100 firefighters from 14 area departments provided mutual aid to Monroe firefighters in addition to the Red Cross assistance. Centers said it took about three hours to put out the fire. He said as the roof was collapsing on top of them, fire crews went room to room to ensure everyone got out of the smoke-filled building and assist ambulatory patients down the stairwells as the elevators were shut off.
There were two injuries in the blaze: a resident who was found unconscious on the third floor and was taken to an area hospital and was treated and released; and a Fairfield Twp. firefighter. There were also two employees who were evaluated by medics at the main campus building but refused transport, according to the report.
The Jounral-News is a media partner of WCPO.