Investigators believe lightning sparked a fire that caused significant damage to a vacant house in Independence Saturday morning (July 23, 2017).

A neighbor reported the blaze around 5 a.m. after seeing flames shooting out the windows of the home on 6th Avenue NE. Assistant Fire Chief Rick Wulfekuhle, who also serves as Buchanan County's Emergency Management Coordinator, was at his office preparing to put out a flood alert when he was called to the scene about six blocks away. Wulfekuhle said smoke from the fire was visible from the parking lot of the County Courthouse, where his office is located.

No injuries were reported. Wulfekuhle said the owners were preparing the house for sale and lost several belongings in the fire, but weren't living at the home when the blaze broke out.

Investigators later determined the fire started along the south wall on the living room level of the house, but they haven't confirmed the cause. According to Wulfekuhle, the blaze started during a thunderstorm. He said it appears that lightning sparked the fire.

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