COLUMBIA, Ill — A lightning strike likely sparked a fire that burned down a mansion and left a woman dead early Thursday morning in Columbia, Illinois.

The investigation is still underway, but Columbia Fire Chief Mike Roediger said his initial belief is that a bolt of lighting is to blame. Strong storms were moving through the area just before the fire was reported.

At 3:18 a.m., multiple fire departments responded to the large home in the 7100 block of Summit View Drive. Crews battled the fire for hours.

The home collapsed while the fire burned. Several hours later, firefighters discovered a body in the garage area, where the second floor had collapsed.

Fire officials have identified the victim as Carol Saylor. She was 86 years old. Officials said her cause of death was smoke inhalation.

This property belongs to developer Joe Koppeis. He was at the home Thursday morning. The family asked for privacy at this time.

5 On Your Side has confirmed the dogs that were missing after the fire have been found safe at the groomers.

house fire in Columbia, Ill.
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