By Tara Morgan - bio | email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - A Henrico office building has been condemned after it was destroyed in a fire caused by lightning.

Several Good Samaritans tried to put out the flames before dozens of Henrico firefighters arrived yesterday evening. The two alarm fire damaged all the supplies used for community outreach.

A fast moving, fierce fire gutted the Virginia Dental Association office building. Thick black smoke could be seen from miles away.

"When it started we didn't think it would be so bad, but I mean look at it," said eyewitness Miguel Bracho.

Bracho saw the flames as he drove by. He tried to call 911 but couldn't get through. He says he stopped to help a construction crew put water on the burning building.

"We pulled out the pressure washer because we thought if it was small enough we could avoid having this," said Corey Austin with Virginia Property Specialists.

But for those Good Samaritans, it quickly proved to be too hard to handle.  

"It blew up and we were like there's no use. There's nothing we can do now," said Austin.

All but two of the association's eight employees had gone home for the day when Mother Nature whipped up a severe storm. Executive director Dr. Terry Dickinson says his employees called him after they heard lightning strike the rooftop.

"There's smoke in the building. We heard a loud crash and I smelled smoke. I said get of the building," said Dickinson.

At one point, some thirty firefighters tackled the flames from the ground and high above. They feared the walls may collapse.

"The building is basically a total loss. We had so much fire in the roof that all the roof's members collapsed," said Deputy Chief Rick McClure with Henrico fire.

The Virginia Dental Association coordinates hundreds of volunteers to provide free dental services to people who can't afford it.

"All of my supplies, we just brought them back Monday, and we loaded them in the building and they're gone, so we got to start all over," said Dr. Dickinson.

Dickinson says he will rebuild. He's just thankful no one was hurt.

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