Lightning probable cause of northwest Champaign fire

CHAMPAIGN — Fire investigators believe a lightning strike caused a fire that heavily damaged a vacant northwest Champaign home Tuesday afternoon.

Eastern Prairie Fire Chief Mike Kobel said firefighters were called to a vacant house at 1512 Queens Way about 1:08 p.m. A neighbor had seen flames.

"The fire was burned through the roof when we got here," Kobel said. "It actually burned a hole through the back of the house and we shot water through that and made entry."

The home is a bi-level and there was heavy fire on the upper floor, Kobel said.

"It's an unoccupied residence — no furniture, no possessions in it, no one living there," he said.

"There was extensive damage to the property. I don't believe it will be a total loss but a couple of trusses may need to be replaced," Kobel said.

Kobel said investigators believe the fire started when lightning struck a wall of the home where utility lines were located.

"There was a bad thunderstorm going through the area just before we got the call, and we found nothing suspicious at the scene," he said.

Eastern Prairie firefighters were helped by firefighters from the Edge-Scott, Carroll, Cornbelt and Savoy fire departments.

Kobel said the firefighters had the blaze under control in about five minutes, but remained at the house for more than a couple of hours dousing hot spots.

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