Heat-fueled evening storms spark Holly Springs house fire
Posted July 16, 2013
Updated July 17, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Temperatures in the low 90s mixed with humid air across central North Carolina Tuesday, spawning evening showers and thunderstorms in several counties, including Wake.
In Holly Springs, lightning struck a home on Westcott Court, sparking a blaze in the attic that caused significant damage to the rest of the home, according to the town's fire department.
"There was heavy fire on the left side of the house up in the attic area," said Battalion Chief Brian Cammack. "Crews had a little bit of a hard time getting to the attic, getting access, (but) had it knocked down pretty quick. It appears at this time – we had a storm come through – (that it was a) lightning strike."
Neighbors said they heard a large boom, walked outside and saw the flames. They alerted the homeowners, who were able to get out safely.
Fire may have also sparked a fire at a home on Autumn Oaks Lane in Raleigh. Fire crews responded to the home shortly before 2 a.m., and flames damaged the attic and an upstairs bedroom. No one was home when the fire started.
Heavy downpours, cloud-to-ground lightning and quarter-sized hail hammered Holly Springs, New Hill and southwestern Wake County when two thunderstorms merged around 7:30 p.m., WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said.
"It's one of those situations where you can go from being clear to being underneath a massive thunderstorm in just a matter of minutes," he said.
The bullseye area at the center of the storm saw up to 2.5 inches of rainfall, said WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze.
"It was just an isolated storm, but it affected a lot of folks," Maze said. "The fact that they had heavy rainfall, cloud-to-ground lightning strikes and also hail that covered the ground for a short period of time (was) all because of the heating of the day."
High temperatures topped out around 93 degrees in Raleigh, with a heat index near 100 degrees, making Tuesday one of the warmest days of 2013.
The warmest day of the year so far came on June 13, when temperatures at Raleigh-Durham International Airport climbed to 94 degrees, said WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner. The mercury has cracked 90 degrees just seven times in 2013.
"We'll be very warm today, but we're still dealing on the whole with a very mild summer," Gardner said. "It's been an unusual year for temperatures."
The Triangle stands a good chance to see showers again on Wednesday evening as another upper-level disturbance passes through the state.
Daytime highs will stay in the low 90s through Saturday.