Lightening strike causes structural fire in Blackburn Wednesday morning

Thursday, August 22, 2019
Tanker trucks from several area fire protection districts responded to Blackburn to provide mutual aid after a lightening strike caused a fire to building housing Blackburn-Elmwood Special Road District equipment. West Central Fire Protection District Chief Bill Kellerman said the building was a complete loss.
Contributed image/Karen Sims

Reports of a structural fire in Blackburn started at about 8:00 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21, and by 9:30 a.m. firefighters from several area jurisdictions reported the fire to be mostly contained. West Central Fire Protection District-Blackburn Chief Bill Kellerman said firefighters returned to the site Wednesday evening to put more water on a several “hot spots” that were still burning. He noted the building housed a road grader and other equipment used by the Blackburn-Elmwood Special Road District.

“The building was a total loss,” he said. “The outside of the building was brick, but the trusses and framing were all made of wood. There were several explosions after the initial fire started, probably from fuel tanks and diesel tanks and that sort of thing.”

Kellerman also stated a neighbor living near the structure said the lightening lit his living room up while another stated smoke was already coming through the roof when the call was made to the fire district.

“So it must have been a powerful strike,” Kellerman said.

In addition to the West Central Fire Protection District-Blackburn, mutual aid assistance was supplied by fire departments from Alma, Concordia, Corder and Waverly. A crew from WCFPD in Sweet Springs also responded, but was called back to base when it was ascertained that enough emergency equipment was already on scene, Kellerman said.

Blackburn Mayor Karen Sims said she was impressed with the cooperation the town received from neighboring communities.

“I just want everyone to know how much we appreciate all the fire departments that assisted us with this emergency,” she said. “I am so proud of the way everyone works together. We are a small town. We might have been able to handle this ourselves, but it was so nice to have the other departments involved in making sure we had it under control.”

No injuries were reported, and an investigation Wednesday afternoon by State Fire Marshal Adam Crouch found the fire had been caused by a lightening strike.

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