Lightning appears to have started a small fire at the Russell House restaurant in Hillsboro.

Lightning appears to have started a small fire at the Russell House restaurant in Hillsboro.

It looks like a lightning strike caused a small fire early Saturday morning (Jan. 11) at the Russell House Restaurant, Inn & Brewery, 10333 Business 21, in Hillsboro, said Brian Gaudet, chief at the Hillsboro Fire Protection District.

No one was inside the building when the fire broke out, Gaudet said.

He said the building’s alarm system alerted the fire district to the blaze at about 1:20 a.m. on the stormy night. Because of the early warning, firefighters were able to limit damage to the restaurant, which was open for normal business hours that day.

“Early detection of the fire by the business having a working fire alarm system was key to the business being able to continue serving its customers just a few hours after the fire,” Gaudet said. “The damage was very minor. The fire alarm did its job.”

Crews remained on the scene for about an hour and a half, he said.

Gaudet said the fire was not obvious from the outside, but firefighters located it in the basement of the building.

“Upon entering the basement, smoke conditions increased and crews found a working fire between one of the floor joists and the south wall area of the basement,” he said.

He said surveillance footage helped firefighters figure out the probable cause.

“Crews reviewed the security footage with the business owner and determined the cause of the fire is most likely to be a lightning strike to the building or close by the building,” he said.

The Mapaville, Goldman, Cedar Hill, Dunklin and De Soto Rural fire districts and the Valle Ambulance District helped with the call.

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