A fire in the attic at Kelly's Ridge Apartments in West Columbia Tuesday morning may have been caused by lightning.
Columbia Fire Department spokesman John Metz said the fire was out and inspectors were taking over to determine the cause.
A bystander stated that "crackling" could be heard in one of the apartments.
Using a thermal imaging camera that detects heat, firefighters located a fire in the attic space above one of the apartments. Firefighters accessed the attic and the fire was quickly extinguished with a single hose line.
Crews remained on the scene for approximately two hours, removing drywall and insulation as they searched for hidden embers.
The occupant of apartment 302 stated she awoke during the thunderstorm and smelled a gas or smoke odor, and contacted the apartment manager.
The manager then called 9-1-1.
Three apartments are uninhabitable as a result of the fire. Apartment 302 has fire damage, and the two apartments below have water damage.
All three units are without electricity until repairs can be made. Columbia Assistant Fire Marshal Lt. Lisa Todd is investigating the origin and cause of the fire.
While the area was experiencing a thunderstorm around the time the fire was discovered, it has not been determined if lightning was the cause of the blaze.
There were no injuries and damage to the building is estimated at $35,000. The occupant does have renter's insurance.