FORT MITCHELL, Ky. — Mother Nature didn’t show mercy on Valley View Condominiums. The strong storms that belted the Tri-State Thursday afternoon delivered a bolt of lightning to the roof of the complex and started a fire that has left many of Valley View’s residents temporarily homeless.
“I heard a gunshot go off above me — at least, it sounded like,” said Jared Richter of the lightning strike. “It was a really, like, metallic zing noise.”
When he stepped outside to investigate, he saw flames and smoke billowing off of the roof even amid the pouring rain. By the time firefighters arrived, Richter and his mother had escaped safely — but the roof was in the process of collapse. When it finally caved in, it took everything below with it.
“It was gut-wrenching to watch,” Richter said.
WCPO viewer Chad Boggs submitted the video of the blaze in the player below.
The odds of a person being struck by lightning are less than one in a million, according to the National Weather Service, but Fort Mitchell Fire Chief Gary Auffart said lightning strikes cause more house fires than most people would expect.
“We see it pretty often,” he said. “It looked like it was a serious storm that rolled through here. There was extensive lightning even when we were still here.”
The Red Cross helped Richter, his mother and other displaced families find clothing and shelter Thursday night.
“I leave for the Marine Corps in September, so I was actually kind of being sentimental about all the old memories anyway,” Richter said. “I was getting ready to leave, but not like this, I suppose.”
Firefighters said Thursday that it was unclear how many of the condos are a total loss.