Apartment chimney ‘exploded’ after hit by lightning bolt in city

PHILIP A. HOLMES/Sun-Gazette One of two chimneys at the Jefferson Square Apartments on Washington Boulevard in the city suffered extensive damage Wednesday afternoon when it was struck by lightning.

No one was injured when bricks rained down on a parking lot at the rear of the Jefferson Square Apartments at 726 Washington Blvd. late Wednesday afternoon when a bolt of lightning struck one of the building’s chimneys, according to city fire officials.

Dakota McDonough, one of the tenants of the three-story building, was in her second-floor apartment talking on the telephone when the chimney was hit about 4:10 p.m.

“In all honesty, I thought at first it was fireworks, and then I heard a crash. I knew then it not fireworks,” said McDonough, a mechanical engineering student at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York State.

“When I looked out my window, I saw bricks all over (the back parking lot). I thought then that lightning had struck the building because clearly something exploded,” McDonough, who is doing an internship this year in the Williamsport area, said.

‘The entire right side of the chimney exploded,” she added. She called her landlord first and then 911.

At least one of three vehicles parked in the lot were hit by the falling bricks.

A 40-year-old woman who lives across the street said she saw a bolt of lightning hit something, she just didn’t know what it was at first.

“I was watching TV. Suddenly, the lightning struck. It made a really loud boom and it kept booming, booming, booming, several booms,” said the city resident, who declined to give her name.

“The booms kept echoing,” she added.

City fire officials said all electrical service to the building was shut off temporarily after a slight haze was detected in an electrical utility room. PPL responded to the scene to inspect the wiring, and the city’s Bureau of Codes responded to inspect the damaged chimney.

All tenants were allowed to return to their apartments by 6 p.m.