Wiregrass Newsroom: Lightning Causes Dothan Apartment Fire

By Daniel Curtis - bio | email

Dothan, Ala. (WSFA) --  Dothan fire fighters now know what caused a massive fire that left 15 families without homes.

Shortly after six Sunday night, fire destroyed an entire building at Tarragon Hills Apartments.

Monday morning fire marshals finished their investigation and have now determined that weather is to blame for the fire that left so many families homeless.

Nick Nitkowski came home to a wall of flames after a birthday dinner with friends and family Sunday night.

Nitkowskit was a new resident at Tarragon Hills apartments.

"I just signed my lease on Saturday, and my birthday was yesterday, and when I came back the place was on fire," said Nitkowski, standing outside of his charred apartment.

Nitkowski was one of 28 residents living in building "F".

Investigators say lightning struck the roof of the building setting the attic ablaze.

The fire then quickly spread throughout the entire building.

Now a day after fire gutted their apartments, Nitkowski and others of building "F" came back and with the help of Dothan firefighters collected what few memories that somehow survived the intense flames.

"I'm doing alright," said Nitkowski. "There's not a whole lot left, as I mentioned I just moved in, I just had enough time to put my valuables in there before the fire."

This is the second disaster Nitkowski has survived.

Before moving to Dothan he lived in Louisiana where he rode out Hurricane Katrina, but he says this fire was ten times worse.