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Posted on Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

Lightning strike sparks fire at apartment complex

By John Counts


Firefighters attended to the roof of an Ypsilanti Township apartment complex that started on fire after being struck by lightning.

Courtney Sacco |

A bolt of lightning started a fire at an Ypsilanti Township apartment complex Friday around 1:30 p.m. as severe thunderstorms rolled through Washtenaw County.

Fire crews were called to the Midtown apartment complex at 1148 West Michigan Avenue after receiving reports of a lightning strike, said Ypsilanti Township Fire Chief Eric Copeland.

There was smoke billowing up from a chimney that had an old antenna attached to it, witnesses said.

Copeland said a blaze spread through an attic, but that firefighters had it quickly under control.

"We were able to get inside and basically knock it all down," he said.

Resident Jerry Ginyard was sitting outside when he heard the thunder and saw the lightning.

"A big old lightning bolt came down," said Ginyard. "It was real bright and hit the chimney. I started seeing smoke so I dialed 911."

Residents Lee Logan and Darryl Barnes, Jr. were also sitting outside at the time of the lightning struck.

"All we saw was a big flash," Logan said.

Witnesses reported being so afraid of the lightning flash that they ran when they saw it.

There were no injuries. The fire did not spread to any of the apartments, but there was water damage. Estimates of damage were not yet available.

The thunderstorm was the second in two days to sweep through the area. Around 2.5 inches of rain fell in Ann Arbor Thursday, creating flooding and traffic problems throughout the city, according to officials.

As of Friday afternoon, more than 4,000 people were still without power in the Ypsilanti and Superior Township area, according to DTE Energy.

Copeland said he hasn't witnessed many fires started by lightning like the one Friday.

"I've never seen anything like this," he said.

John Counts covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Sun, Jun 30, 2013 : 5:40 p.m.

Kudos to the Ypsi fire dept.!


Sat, Jun 29, 2013 : 3:28 p.m.

I was trapped in my car near Arborland at 3:15 on Thursday due to the torrential rain when there was a huge thunderclap simultaneously with lightning right over my car. I saw a gold/red huge bright flash right ahead not far above the street. Anyone else see it? So loud and sudden I screamed!

Susanne Brace

Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 11 p.m.

I would like to thank the Ypsilanti Fire Department for there amazingly quick response! I know there is a fire department just down the road, but with all the fires popping up I was very impressed with how fast they responded. Thanks ladies and gentlemen!

Ann English

Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 8:04 p.m.

So Ypsilanti gets no flooding, but a lightning bolt. It sounds as if these apartment residents saw no rain, since they were sitting outside. So soon after I learned that houses could get struck by lightning, not just trees. Next it's going to be businesses or governmental buildings.

Susanne Brace

Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 10:56 p.m.

There was plenty of rain, each apartment on the bottom floor is covered somewhat by the balcony above!