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‘It blew the chimney apart!’ Downtown Idaho Falls building struck by lightning

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James Johnson

UPDATE

The following is an update from the city of Idaho Falls:

At about 9:15 p.m. Saturday, Idaho Falls Fire was dispatched to the Destinations Inn on Broadway in Idaho Falls. A caller reported that he had seen lightning strike a building in the area. Another called reported that they had heard a loud noise that they believed was a lightning strike and could smell smoke. Fire alarms were triggered and the building was evacuated.

It appears that lightning struck the chimney on top of the ARTitorium building next door causing some damage to the top portion of the chimney. Crews from the Idaho Falls Fire Department found light smoke coming from a crawl space between the two buildings but no fire. Both buildings have been cleared for reentry.

ORIGINAL STORY

IDAHO FALLS — The ARTitorium on Broadway building in downtown Idaho Falls was struck by lightning Saturday evening, according to multiple witnesses.

“I witnessed the whole thing. It was wild,” James Johnson tells EastIdahoNews.com. He was driving to work when he saw the lightning strike and called 911 at 9:11 p.m.

“I saw lightning and the biggest thunder boom I’ve ever witnessed with a big plume of smoke,” Johnson says. “The lightning blew that chimney apart.”

James Johnson

Johnson says at least one vehicle parked on the street was hit by falling brick. Debris also littered the sidewalk outside the building.

Fire crews arrived and broke a glass door to get inside the facility. They inspected the roof and interior for any sign of fire or damage. The Destinations Inn, which is housed in the same building, was also evacuated, according to Johnson.

A vehicle parked outside the ARTitorium on Broadway was hit by falling debris. | James Johnson

The storm moved into Idaho Falls around 9 p.m. Strong winds accompanied continual thunder and lightning that lasted for 20-30 minutes.

EastIdahoNews.com employee Josh Johnson was at an outdoor party near 5th West and Rockingham Street when a sudden gust of wind blew trees and other items over. That was followed by a downpour of rain, lightning and thunder.

Josh Johnson | EastIdahoNews.com

Josh Johnson | EastIdahoNews.com

Josh Johnson | EastIdahoNews.com

It’s unknown if any other buildings, homes or structures were struck by lightning but EastIdahoNews.com will update this story as we receive more details.

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