Lightning apparently struck a new apartment complex building Tuesday, which started a minor fire on the spire atop the roof.
Residents stood outside the University Edge building, which parallels West State of Franklin Road and is nearest East Tennessee State University’s Thomas Stadium, while firefighters lifted up to the roof in a bucket knocked down the burning apex.
Each building at the complex is topped with the steeple-style fixtures.
Joe Burchnell, a visitor at the apartments, said he was standing in the parking lot when the lightning struck.
“I felt it,” he said. He looked up and saw smoke rising from the roof and called 911, he said.
Dr. Kamesh Sivagnanam, a medical resident at Johnson City Medical Center and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center Hospital at Mountain Home, said he’d just arrived home from a shift when he heard the lightning hit.
“I said, ‘Wow that’s loud,’ ” he said. But he didn’t realize the building was hit until an office worker came around knocking on doors to get residents out of the building.
Another resident said she saw someone pulling fire alarms to alert residents.
As dozens of residents stood outside watching firefighters work, a storm began moving in quickly. Firefighters were wrapping up their operations, so residents were allowed inside their apartments before it began to rain.
The lightning that hit the building was apparently a precursor to a storm that drenched Johnson City just before 5 p.m. Tuesday.
As the storm moved through with quite a bit of lightning, officers were sent to several intersections across town to investigate reports of traffic lights not working.
It was just another in a string of storms that have hit the region day after day. The frequent storms follow a long period of hot weather with no rain that threatened the livelihood of farmers who depend on rain to water crops and provide drinking water for livestock.
There is a continued chance for thunderstorms for the rest of the week.