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Lighting strike causes apartment fire, leaving dozens without home

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Posted at 9:10 AM, Aug 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-06 17:52:31-04

ESSEX, Md — They may have thought the worst was over when Tropical Storm Isaias had whisked by earlier in the week, until a flash of light and crack of thunder awoke people from their sleep early Thursday leaving residents like Gumer Medina guessing at what had happened.

“It was loud. It was something fall… like a piece of metal fall straight to the ground, but it was right in the corner,” said Medina.

Tameka Winn lives with her 12-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son in the apartment where a bolt of lightning struck, awaking her instantly, but initially she just thought it had just knocked out her power.

“Then I started to smell something so I’m looking around trying to find where the smell was coming from, and I couldn’t find it,” said Winn. “So I just got up, banged on my kids’ doors like, ‘Get up!’ I smell smoke or something burning and that’s when my neighbor told me, ‘The roof is on fire.’”

By the time people had spilled out of the building, flames started shooting out of the roof and spreading through the attic space above the top floor.

“There was fire through the roof by the time the fire department got there,” said Baltimore County Fire Specialist Nicholas Tyson. “Fortunately, no one was hurt. They were all able to get out.”

And for now they will have to stay out.

The building has been condemned until in can be repaired and inspectors can check it thoroughly, leaving Tameka Winn and her children, like other families here, wondering how in just an instant their lives could be turned upside down.

“It was kind of small and contained at first and then it just started to grow,” said Winn. “We were out here. It was pouring down raining.

At last count, the American Red Cross is on hand and has now helped 39 victims, representing some 13 families with food, shelter and long-term recovery.