Lightning strike damages home in Sunday storm

Published 5:00 am Monday, April 13, 2009

As the worst of Sunday night’s storm cleared and the stars werebecoming visible on the horizon, a house just outside the citylimits stood heavily damaged by fire resulting from a lightningstrike.

Hog Chain Volunteer Fire Chief John Hart said residents of the310 Greenwood Lane home, owned by James and Cynthia Levi, told himthey heard the lightning “pop” and it knocked out power. Theydiscovered the fire in a back bedroom shortly thereafter.

“He said the lightning popped really close and that all thepower to that house went out,” Hart said. “Within minutes they gotto smelling smoke, and when he opened the bedroom door, smoke andflames were coming out. They had to leave the house because it wasalready so hot.”

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Firefighters from Hog Chain and Zetus Volunteer Fire Departmentsresponded to the call around 8:30 p.m.

Hart said the home appeared to have 100 percent content damage -due to a heavy black soot that covered most of the inside – butthat there only appeared to be about 40 percent structure damage.Part of the problem for responding departments was that loweredvisibility due to heavy rain made driving dangerous.

“The rain just delayed the response big time. I couldn’t getover about 25 miles per hour going there, because I couldn’t seethe road,” he said. “And I know the trucks were the same way.”

Hart said it was a blessing the family was able to react andleave the home, because the fire grew and spread so fast.

“I think they were just very fortunate they were awake, as fastas that fire progressed,” he said. “It sounds like it was a shortperiod of time from when that lightning hit to when they openedthat door and found the fire.”

The Brookhaven Fire Department also responded to the blaze, asthe home was right on the city limits line and it was hard forresponders to tell whether it was in Hog Chain’s district or insidethe city.

“It was a question of whether it was in or outside the citylimits, because as I understand it, the house across the drivewaywas inside the city,” Hart said. “But it was a good dual responseand good teamwork.”