ELON, N.C. -- Eighty-five students living in Elon's Brown Hall were evacuated last night after lightning struck their apartment building.
Elon officials say the lightning hit a third floor apartment with four girls inside. It started a small fire, triggering the building's sprinklers and causing water damage to at least three apartments.
Jonathan Smith, who lives in the building, says, at first, he and his roommate didn't realize what was going on.
"We just saw this huge flash of light and the loudest bang I've ever heard in my life," he said. "We both jumped a good foot in the air and just whipped around trying to tell what had happened."
Elon officials say the lightning strike caused the fire alarm to go out, so it never went off. Instead, students say they ran door to door alerting neighbors to get outside.
Student Rachel Ingersoll says she and her dormmates are rattled, but mainly thankful that no one was injured. The students in Brown Hall were asked to stay with friends at other dorms while repairs are being made.
"We're all really happy to be alive," Ingersoll said. "And to have such great friends to take care of us on campus."
The university says some students may be able to move back into Brown Hall as early as tonight if repairs continue on schedule. Students living in the three apartments with the most severe water damage may be out of their rooms longer.
— Elon University (@elonuniversity) September 4, 2014