Lightning hit a hotel and casino complex in south-central Iowa early this morning, knocking out power, sparking a fire and forcing all guests and patrons to flee.
Captain Kyle Wilson, of the Osceola Volunteer Fire Department, says they were called to Terrible’s Lakeside Hotel and Casino about 3:45 A-M. Captain Wilson says the staff had already gotten everyone out before the first fire crew arrived.
“It was completely evacuated,” Wilson says. “We had several transformer boxes exploded. There was pretty good fire in the two walkways. The lower level and the upper level walkways going into the casino basically is where most of the fire damage was.”
He says the cause of the mayhem was clear. “Officially, it was just a lightning storm that hit, blew up the transformers, extended into the mechanical room,” Wilson says. “If everything goes right, they should be able to get up and going late this evening.”
He says the power is out to the casino area but he thought the hotel section should have electricity. Since they were dealing with a dangerous electrical situation, Wilson says his crew had to wait outside while an Alliant Energy employee switched off the power so it was safe for firefighters to enter.
“Once we got electricity out, we were able to get right in there,” Wilson says. “We had everything in position while we were waiting on them and then we got in there and got it knocked down.”
He could not put a dollar estimate on the damage and couldn’t say how many people had been evacuated. A hotel official reached by phone would make no comment.