Lightning fire evacuates East Austin apartments

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Neighbors in an East Austin apartment complex woke up early Tuesday morning to crews evacuating them from their homes after lightning sparked a fire — the third sparked overnight.

“It’s very dangerous, especially we were very busy tonight. This is our third fire due to lightning strikes,” said Austin Fire Department Lt. Randy Elmore.

Fire crews responded to 1616 Royal Crest Drive when the call came in at 3:48 a.m. about the blaze on a balcony.

“Originally, when fire crews got here, they saw very little smoke, very little fire,” said Elmore. “They went to extinguish it. Then, they opened up the ceiling, then realized that there was a lot more fire.”

Fire could be seen through a ceiling in a breezeway of the apartments. And while the blaze was on the outside, the inside was damaged in the firefighting effort.

People in two apartment units have been displaced, one unit due to fire-control damage and the other due to no electricity. Apartment complex management is working on relocating those people.

Meanwhile, there is $30,000 in damage to the building and $5,000 in belongings. No injuries were reported.

Fire crews have been busy overnight responding to blazes caused by lightning strikes.

The first fire happened just before 10 p.m. Monday in Northwest Austin in the 9800 block of Valderrama Drive.

When firefighters got to the home, there was light smoke coming from the roof area. Crews were able to quickly get the fire under control and keep it contained to the attic, and everyone was able to get out of the home safely. Fire damage is estimated to be around $60,000 for the home.

The second fire happened at 1 a.m. Tuesday in Southeast Austin at 5510 Zachary Scott St.

Firefighters found fire coming through the roof of a two-story house, but they managed to put it out within 10 minutes. There were no injuries, and the total damage is estimated to be $40,000.

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