Bensalem Township apartment catches fire after possible lightning strike

BENSALEM TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WPVI) -- An apartment building in Bensalem went up in flames after a lightning strike, residents say.

It happened around 4:30 p.m. on the 1400 block of Cardinal Drive.

Vikrama Billava was enjoying a typical Sunday afternoon with his wife and two children. There was a little rain in the area on Cardinal Drive in Bensalem Township but nothing to cause concern.

Even when he heard a loud boom at around 4:30 p.m., he thought nothing of it.

"I heard a loud noise. Something like a lightning strike," he said.

Billava went back to what he was doing, not realizing his apartment was on fire.

"We started smelling a burning smell," he said. "I could see smoke coming on the roof."

He and his family ran from their home and started knocking on their neighbor's doors to alert them about the fire.

Firefighters responded quickly. They say 12 units were affected. Two of them in the top floor were seriously damaged, including Billava's apartment. The damage left the ceilings of the apartments open to the sky.

"A week back I extended my lease," Billava said as he noted that the family has friends who have offered them a place to stay.

Two black singe marks scarred the roof. Firefighters are still investigating the cause. But neighbors are pretty convinced it was lightning.

"One crack of thunder and that's all they needed," said Rick Cartier, who lives behind the affected apartment units.

No one was hurt in the fire.

Investigators say the official cause of the fire was due to lightning.
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