Lightning to blame for Clay County business fire

CLAY COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - Lightning is to blame for a massive fire in southeastern Kentucky that nearly destroyed a family-owned business.

It happened around 11 p.m. Wednesday night at Clay Building Supply on U.S. 420 in Manchester.

The biggest danger came a large propane tank nearby. When firefighters got there, they say the propane tank was on fire, and it extended to the inside of the building. Downstairs was an equipment rental shop, which, we're told, had gas and oil inside.

Joshua Foust lives in an apartment across the street and saw the flames just minutes after the fire started.

“The flames were shooting up over the building. I mean it was massive, just shooting up from it,” Foust said.

Many believe lightning caught a large propane tank on fire in front of the lumber company and hardware store and quickly spread to the building.

“The large [propane tank] is still holding 3,400 gallons of propane and there’s some small tanks beside it that are empty,” Manchester Police Officer Jeff Collett.

And that’s what made this fire so dangerous not just for crews, but also people like Foust who live just feet away.

“We were making sure to kind of stay back, but at the same time just be aware of what’s going on in case we needed to leave,” Foust added.

Responders from 10 different agencies throughout Clay County and neighboring Laurel County helped put out the fire that destroyed the rental part of the building. Crews believe the hardware side of the building is okay. No injuries were reported.

On its website, the family-owned business says it’s been running for 30 years and has another location in London.

Two other fires were also reported Wednesday night in Clay County. One was a home in Burning Springs. Another was an outbuilding on Big Hill.

We’re told no injuries were reported from those fires either.

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