Lightning is possible cause of rural house fire Friday night

Area crews fight a house fire late Friday night in the rain at 19640 CR 24, about 8.5 miles west of Blair and south of Highway 91. Firefighters from Arlington and Blair were called to a fully-engulfed residential fire at 11:15 p.m. Friday night. Kennard firefighters were called shortly afterward. The crews also had to watch for white, jaggged lightning streaking down in the area. Firefighter Dan Douglas of Arlington said Saturday that a neighbor reported the fire and no one was home when firefighters arrived. Douglas said the last fire crew left about 4 a.m. Saturday.

A rural Arlington home burned to the brick part of its exterior late Friday night during a thunderstorm bringing heavy rain, while flashing, sharp lightning lit the sky near fire crews. Investigators were studying whether lightning caused the fire which was called in by a neighbor about 11:15 p.m.

Arlington and Blair Volunteer Fire Departments were called to a fully-engulfed two-story residential fire at 19640 County Road 24, about nine miles west of Blair and south of Highway 91.

“Nobody was injured,” Arlington firefighter Dan Douglas said Saturday morning. 

Homeowner David Hilgenkamp said Saturday morning that renters, the Jim Shada family, were not at the home at the time of the fire. The home had lost many windows in the June 3 hailstorm, Hilgenkamp said, and the Shadas had been living with family at least part of the time. Shada is the assistant principal and activity director at Arlington High School. 

While cows stood in the field a short distance away Friday night, crews battled the fire until the last group left about 4 a.m. Saturday. 

Hilgenkamp was working with a well digging company Saturday morning to restore the water for the cattle. The previous water system had been connected to the home’s basement.

Hilgenkamp said he wasn’t sure at this point if the home would be rebuilt. He had owned it since 1965.

Friday night’s heavy rainstorm helped and also hampered fire crews.

“The rain helped last night,” Douglas said Saturday morning. “It kept it from spreading, getting to other buildings.” 

The rain made it hard to see as fire crews made their way out on the soft gravel roads. Then they had to watch out for lightning in the area, Douglas said.

Douglas said a state fire marshal’s office investigator on the scene Friday night was going to look into the possibility of a lightning strike starting the fire.

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