Elgin, IL – Sprinklers douse fire at medical building; Cause may have been lightning strike

Lightning may have started a small fire Friday in a northwest suburban medical office building, where an internal sprinkler system doused the flames before firefighters arrived. Elgin firefighters were called just before 7 a.m. Friday to the medical building at 1015 Summit St. after an employee arriving for work called to report a fire alarm going off, according to a statement from the Elgin Fire Department.

Firefighters heard a strobe horn going off, and saw water flowing out from an exterior door, but saw no smoke or flames. When the door was forced open, firefighters found that a fire had started in the telecommunications equipment and activated the sprinkler above. Investigators determined the cause of the blaze was “either an electrical issue or a lightning strike,” which caused the telecommunications equipment to catch fire until it grew strong enough to set off the sprinkler.

The alarm signal directly into the fire department did not activate because it is the telecommunications equipment that activates it, according to the department, which recommended a wireless system be installed. Fire and smoke damage to the building and contents was minimal, but the “building was determined to be unsafe due to an inoperative alarm, inactive sprinkler system, and unknown electrical conditions’ and consequently red-tagged,” the department said. City Code Enforcement inspectors were notified. No injuries were reported.

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