Debris from lightning strike keeps part of downtown street closed
The Chattanooga Fire Department blocked off the area around the James Building and cleaned chunks of stone that fell onto the street, Monday.
Lightning damaged two buildings in Chattanooga on Monday around three o'clock in the afternoon--the chimney of the mansion at the Hunter Museum of Art, and the southeast corner of the James building at Broad and 8th Streets. Building monitor Jerry Davis says not everybody inside the James was sure what happened.
|READ MORE | Lightning strikes chimney of Hunter Museum|
"The people on the upper floors knew that something hit the building because there was a loud boom and it was definitely obvious. The people on the lower floors, they weren't sure what was going on," says David.
The lightning strike triggered the alarm and Davis helped get the 160 people out of the building safely.
"We do regular drills and they know what to do when the alarm goes off," adds David. "So it's just a matter of monitoring them and getting them in the right direction."
The Chattanooga Fire Department blocked off the area and cleaned chunks of stone that fell onto the street. Cary Morris, the city building inspector also came to check out the 109-year-old building.
"He came out and they went up and looked at it from the roof and from down here with binoculars. Made sure that it was structurally safe to bring people back in," explains Davis.
David says they stood outside for about an hour before getting the all-clear to go back inside. Morris says he isn't sure if there's a working lightning rod on the roof. If there is, it should have prevented the damage.
Davis, who has been working at the James Building for ten years hopes that lightning won't strike the same place twice.
"Never. This is the first time," says Davis. "It was quite a surprise."
Morris says the owner of the building is now responsible for hiring an engineer to further inspect the roof and to clean the remaining debris off the sidewalk. Until these are done, 8th Street will stay closed between Broad and Chestnut for safety reasons.