MORGANTOWN, W.Va. Lightning is the suspected cause of a fire early Friday morning at the Lofts in Morgantown, off West Run Road.

Multiple departments were dispatched at 12:30 a.m. to 5000 Station Street and reported smoke and flames showing from the top floor upon arrival.

Executive Director, American Red Cross of the Allegheny Highlands, Jason Keeling, said if there is a bright side to this, he said it is spring break, so many of the residents were out-of-town when the blaze happened. The Red Cross mobilized two staff workers and three volunteers to the scene at 2:45 a.m. to begin an assessment of needs.

“Many of the student residents were not on site, but they have none the less been impacted because 18 large units have been destroyed, so those residents have been displaced,” Keeling said.

In addition to temporary housing, the Red Cross will also provide basic needs and offer assistance in planning what the next steps will be for each resident.

“This is arguably one of the most difficult days of their lives, but we’re trying to provide some hope to them because they have lost all of their possessions,” Keeling said.

The Allegheny Highlands Chapter of the Red Cross responds to hundreds of fires in the region, helping families cope with the loss and begin to rebuild. Keeling said the best way for others to help is by making a donation to the organization.

“A monetary donation is the best way to help, so we can get those resources to those impacted so they can best determine what they need,” Keeling said.

Keeling said this is a good time to make a disaster plan. Establish an exit plan with a rally point; don’t rely on cell phones in a disaster; keep fire extinguishers; and have working smoke and CO detectors on every floor of your home.

“It’s critical that residents have working smoke alarms because if they do not, you have roughly two minutes to escape before risking serious injury and property damage,” Keeling said.