Lightning Strike Likely Cause of Fire at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford

Emergency crews responded to a fire at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford Monday evening and officials believe it was likely caused by a lightning strike.

Police confirmed the fire is at the Hill House dorm building. Fire officials said everyone self-evacuated and no one was hurt.

Initial reports were that the fire was caused by lightning. The NBC Connecticut meteorologists were able to confirm a lightning strike in the area at 5:46 p.m.

Fire officials said firefighters had to wait until the lightning passed to complete their work. 

"We cut holes in the back side of hte building, it got really bad and we were about to cut holes in the front of the building and we came down," explained Wallingford Fire Battalion Chief Kris Sundwall.

Most of the damage is to the attic of the building. There is fire, smoke and water damage, in part due to a pipe that broke during the fire. The building is uninhabitable for now.

School officials said in a statement that students were told to shelter-in-place and that everyone was safe.

"At approximately 6:20 p.m. this evening, Summer Programs students received a shelter in place message. A severe band of thunderstorms with lightning strikes moved quickly into the area during the dinner hour. The roof of Hill House was struck by lightning. All of our students are safe. Students residing in Hill House, and the adjoining Library, Hall, and West Wing buildings were evacuated to the Worthington Johnson Athletic Center. The Wallingford Police and Fire Departments are on the scene. We are monitoring the situation closely and will be sending parents updates as soon as they become available. We will provide alternate housing for students in the affected dormitories tonight," the statement read.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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