MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) – A three-alarm fire displaced nearly 100 people Friday evening, after lightning struck the property, fire officials said.
The fire broke out at 6:14 p.m. in the attic of a four-story multi-family home on East Main Street in Meriden, according to Meriden Fire Chief Ken Morgan and Deputy Chief Ryan Dunn.
The Meriden Fire Department confirmed that the fire was caused by a lightning strike that a resident witnessed.
Nemiah Allen, a resident at the apartment, described the lightening that struck the attic, “It was like a boom, it just shook the building,” he said. “The flames were just coming through the roof.”
Meriden’s fire chief Keith Morgan said fire crews had to cut through ceilings to get to the attic.
“Because of the heat and humidity, it became a difficult fire,” he said. “I think fighting a fire in the attic is tough to begin with because you can’t really get in there. So it was a pretty extensive fire.”
On Saturday evening, families could go inside and retrieve items, but they had to find another place to stay for the night.
Matthew Cosme and his brother waited for a ride on the front steps of the building Saturday evening. He lived in the building for three years and said the fire is just a case of bad luck.
“You can’t really complain about it, it’s just random things, out of our control,” he said. “It just sucks for everyone who has to figure out what they have to do next.”
Morgan said the fire didn’t spread to the whole building, but several units have water damage.
Officials said there were no injuries and the fire was controlled in about one hour. Mutual aid was called from New Britain, Southington, Middletown, Wallingford and Berlin Fire Departments.
The Meriden Fire Department said there was substantial water and smoke damage to the entire building.
To help displaced families, the senior center on Main Street is open as a temporary shelter. Additionally, both the American Red Cross and Animal Control are working to care for families and pets who evacuated.
Families are unsure when they can return home, yet the Meriden Fire Department said that building management is currently conducting damage surveys to see when residents can safely come back.