WALLINGFORD — The town fire marshal confirmed Tuesday that a lightning strike caused a building fire at Choate Rosemary Hall Monday night, damaging a century-old structure in the heart of the campus.
The lightning strike at Hill House, 138 N. Elm St., occurred around 6:20 p.m. during a severe thunderstorm.
Hill House, built in 1911, is a registered historic building. In addition to housing students, the four-story building is home to the private school’s dining hall and administrative offices.
“We are thankful for the quick response and support of the Wallingford Fire Department, with the assistance of units from neighboring towns,” Choate spokeswoman Lorraine Connelly said via email Tuesday. “They extinguished the fire quickly, mitigating damage and saving our iconic Hill House. Above all else, we are grateful that everyone is safe.”
Town Fire Marshal Michael Gudelski said that the fire damaged a two-story apartment of a staff member on the third and fourth floor, as well as the roof and chimney. The building wasn’t required to have a lightning rod, he said.
A large hole in the roof could be seen Tuesday. Information on the size of the hole and cost estimates for repairs was not immediately available.
Connelly said as more information becomes available, “we will be in a position to evaluate options (regarding) the use of the building for the 2019-20 academic year.”
For the remainder of the week—the final week of the school’s summer programs—Choate plans to provide alternative accommodations for faculty and students whose residences were impacted by the fire.
Food services has been temporarily relocated to another facility on campus.