Tenants escape Saturday fire unharmed

Saturday, May 31, 2008 | 4:55 p.m. CDT; updated 12:06 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

COLUMBIA — Investigators have not determined what sparked a fire Saturday morning at 2100 Cherry Hill Drive.

According to a Columbia Fire Department news release, officials are focusing on electrical problems and speculations of lightning hitting the roof. Tenants said they heard lightning and a possible strike during Friday night’s thunderstorms. Investigators will consult MU’s department of atmospheric science for lightning strike data as part of their investigation on Monday.

Early Saturday, the residents of apartment 201 at 2100 Cherry Hill Drive awoke to the smell of smoke, evacuated the building as the smoke intensified and called firefighters at 2 a.m. Four engines, a ladder and a heavy rescue squad were sent to the scene, according to the department release. It took firefighters 45 minutes to control the fire after cutting holes in the roof to vent out the smoke and fight the flames, which had spread through the attic’s insulation layers.

No one was injured.

Although the building is equipped with working smoke alarms and an automatic sprinkler system, the fire’s origin, as determined by fire investigators at the scene, was in the attic space above apartment 201. The release indicated that the building’s “13R” system has sprinkler heads in living spaces but not in attics or roof areas.

Estimates of the water and smoke damage were unavailable.

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