Photos: Lightning-sparked fire damages Phoenix business


by Catherine Holland

Video report by Tess Rafols

Posted on July 12, 2012 at 6:36 AM

Updated Thursday, Jul 12 at 9:07 AM

Map: 40th Street and Camelback

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PHOENIX -- A Phoenix business owner is in clean-up mode after a lightning strike during our overnight monsoon storm sparked a fire.

Dozens for crews were called out to Republic Monetary Exchange on the northeast 40th Street and Camelback Road at about 1 a.m. Thursday.

While the damage is extensive 3TV's Tess Rafols said the president and CEO of the company, Jim Clark, is remaining upbeat, reminding everyone that it could have been worse.

The size of the building prompted the initial large response -- about 30 units converged on the scene shortly after the call went out. Investigators believe the fire started when lightning hit the roof. A cleaning crew was working inside the build at the time and immediately summoned firefighters.

Fearing a fast spread of the flames, those firefighters quickly got down to business and were able to contain the fire to a relatively small section of the roof. They did, however, have to cut several holes in the roof in order to get to the fire.

With the rain, the water used to fight the flames and the building's sprinkler system, flooding and severe water damage were inevitable.

"To see the building fill up with smoke and a few flames coming out of the roof of the building, it gets your heart running," Clark said. "If it had to happen, during the night was the best time to do so. The cleaning crew was on top of it and called the fire department."

With the exception of a few broken window panels, the building looks fine on the outside, but it's another story inside.

Video from the scene showed major water damage to the ceiling and the offices. The good news is that the company's computers servers, the heart of the business, were not affected.

The other bit of good news is that no injuries were reported. Republic Monetary Exchange mostly deals with investments in silver, gold and other precious metals.