Lightning ignites blazes at several Wake County homes

Posted July 23, 2012
Updated July 24, 2012

— Lightning sparked by heat-fueled afternoon storms ignited serious fires at two homes in Wake County Monday evening, authorities said. 

Five fire crews from various communities responded to a blaze at 504 Gooseberry Drive in Holly Springs, which spread to the house next door shortly after 8 p.m.

The house on the other side of 504 Gooseberry Drive suffered damage to its siding due to extreme heat from the fire.

Holly Springs Fire Chief Leroy Smith said crews worked a lightning-sparked fire at another home on Sunday night.

"It was bad. The Holly Springs Fire Department was stretched a little thin because there were a lot of calls in the area," Smith said.

An Apex home was also severely damaged by what appeared to be a lightning-related fire, authorities said. The fire started in the attic at a house on Hoboken Drive, near the intersection with Hasbrouck Drive in the Montclair subdivision.

In that fire, crews rescued a cat from a second-floor window.

No injuries were reported in either fire.

Wake County emergency dispatchers said they got about a dozen calls regarding lightning fires, including at a Midwood Drive outbuilding and houses on Legacy Oaks Drive and Hinton Oaks Drive. Holly Springs house fire Lightning sparks house fires in Wake County

With high temperatures forecast to reach 98 degrees on Tuesday, any afternoon thunderstorms that form will once again have the chance of becoming severe and producing more lightning, WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said. 

"We'll likely see a repeat of what we saw Monday night on Tuesday," she said. "It's dangerous stuff, so anytime you hear thunder you are in danger of being struck by lightning."


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  • PickAnotherID Jul 25, 2012

    Kermit: I know what the stacks are for. My point is years ago they generally didn't stick up above the ridge line. Various code changes over the years have mandated the increased height of the stacks. What I'm wondering is if those code changes also called for the higher stacks to be electricly bonded and tied to an outside ground rod, like TV antenna poles are supposed to be. If they aren't, then the higher metal stacks will just transfer the energy and heat of a lightning strike into the building structure itself. What I was suggesting WRAL might want to investigate is whether or not there is any requirement for those high stacks to be grounded, and if not, why not??

  • fisunt Jul 24, 2012

    CRC is Cary Re-Construction company, I was trying to figure that one out too.

  • KermitDFrog Jul 24, 2012

    @PickAnotherID: Those tall metal stacks are vent stacks for the heating system and/or water heater. I'm not sure what there is to investigate unless you're suggesting that existing building codes are written to "attract" lightning.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Jul 24, 2012

    Sorry to hear of their loss. Blessed that no one was hurt and that the cat was saved. Bless emergency workers everywhere who rush into the face of danger when all others are often running from it.

  • joeBob Jul 24, 2012

    "House struck by lightning? Please read the online reviews before choosing CRC."

    who or what is CRC ?

  • joeBob Jul 24, 2012

    Wonder if any of these houses that caught fire in the last month were "under water" financially?

    Rule of thumb on lightning rods is if your house is the tallest thing around, you need them. Otherwise, they are lightning bait.

  • look deeper Jul 24, 2012

    Speaking of lightning rods. If you build a house next to a house, next to a house, next to a house, next to a house, and cut down every natural lightning rod tree in-between and around every house; well guess where the lightning is going to go.

  • PickAnotherID Jul 24, 2012

    I've noticed several of these 'lightning strike' fires were in newer homes with the tall metal vent stacks that clear the roof ridge line. When I was a kid we called metal sticking above the roof line a lightning rod. Which makes me wonder if these new style metal stacks are properly bonded and grounded to handle a lightning strike??? Might make an 'investigative report' story for WRAL to check out.

  • SueInNC Jul 24, 2012

    I hope these folks had good insurance to make them whole again. Sorry to hear about these fires. :( I hope today's storms don't do any damage!

  • uncleelton Jul 24, 2012

    House struck by lightning? Please read the online reviews before choosing CRC.