Lightning may be to blame for 2-alarm fire that gutted classrooms at Waldorf school

Fire crews pour water on the two-alarm blaze. (Photo: Ben Rice/WJLA)

WALDORF, Md. (WJLA) - Investigators in Charles County were trying to determine Thursday if lightning was to blame for a fire that gutted a portion of a classroom facility at John Hanson Middle School in Waldorf.

About 80 people – including teachers and adult education students – were inside the Lifelong Learning Center about 6:15 p.m. Wednesday when they heard what sounded like lightning striking the roof.

School officials said those inside smelled smoke and managed to escape. No one was injured in the two-alarm fire.

"We are so thankful that no one was hurt, they followed the drill and they didn't panic," said Katie O'Malley-Simpson, a spokesperson for Charles County Public Schools.

About 120 firefighters responded to the blaze that was tough to get under control. Fire officials said 10 portable classrooms were a total loss, while others may have sustained water damage.

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The main building of the school was not affected.