Apartment building struck by lightning catches fire, collapses

WSMV4's Sharon Danquah reports.
Published: Aug. 13, 2023 at 11:07 PM PDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV/Gray News) - A Tennessee apartment building caught fire and collapsed, injuring a firefighter, after its roof was struck by lightning during severe storms.

The fire happened Saturday afternoon at the Glass Creek Apartments in Mt. Juliet, a suburb of Nashville. Officials say lightning struck one of the apartment buildings in the complex, causing it to go up in flames. People in 24 units were displaced, including roommates Aaron Stanley and Brady Cross.

“We were all inside, and it was thunderstorming outside and everything,” Stanley said. “We could hear the lightning hit and see the flash along the ground but thought it was just close. We didn’t realize that it had actually been our apartment that had gotten struck.”

Cross told WSMV that after the lightning strike, the fire and chaos that ensued happened so fast.

“We heard yelling,” Cross said. “And then, people were banging on doors.”

When Stanley and Cross went outside, they saw the Mt. Juliet Fire Department and all of the emergency crews on the scene. They then went back inside to grab their animals and whatever else they could before they ran back out.

Firefighters immediately began to try and put out the blaze.

“You could see the flames coming over the roof of the building,” Stanley said.

All of the residents inside the building and other nearby buildings were told to evacuate.

“All the plastic started to bend, and then, it all finally just started to cave in,” Cross said.

Three firefighters were inside when the building started to collapse. Two were able to make it out safely, but one got crushed under the debris. The injured firefighter was taken to the emergency room in a police unit and was then rushed to Skyline Medical Center.

The fire department posted an update to social media Sunday afternoon, saying the injured firefighter is still in “critical yet stable condition.”

“I’m definitely praying for him because these firefighters did everything they could. (They) saved a lot of people and saved a lot of people’s stuff. I’m very grateful,” Stanley said.

Officials say no residents or pets were hurt.

The American Red Cross is working to help those displaced.

Mt. Juliet police and fire officials have coordinated with MJ4Hope to create the Glass Creek Relief Fund. Money donated to the fund will directly benefit people and families impacted by the fire. Officials said they are working to speak with everyone affected to understand their needs.

To donate, click here or visit MJ4Hope’s website.