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Stormy Weather Ignites Blazes Throughout Raleigh Area

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Lightning, high winds and reports of hail accompanied a thunderstorm that moved through Wake County early Saturday afternoon, bringing multiple reports of accidents and lightning strike fires.

The most severe fire destroyed 24 apartments in Raleigh's Brier Creek community. Residents of the Carrington Apartments at Brier Creek managed to escape the flames, but many lost their homes and even their pets.

Carrington resident Ernie Paschall said he thought lightning had struck his building about 11:30 a.m. But about 10 minutes later, he noticed smoke coming from another building in his complex. He grabbed his camera and caught more than 60 images of the fire. Her later wrote in his blog about the fire and posted the photos to the Internet.

Firefighters were busy with several other fires around the area. Two homes caught fire on Ladish Lane in southeast Raleigh. The fires melted siding on one home and burned it down to the studs on the second floor. Fire investigators are checking whether lightning started the blaze.

Flames poured out of an attic at another house fire in North Raleigh early Saturday afternoon. Fire crews quickly got the fire under control. There's no word on the extent of damage inside the home or any injuries.

The National Weather Service recorded about 1,200 lightning strikes around midday as a thunderstorm brought high winds and reports of hail through Wake County.

The storm dumped a lot of rain in just a short period of time, and some storm drains just couldn't keep up. There was minor flooding on Duke's west campus Saturday afternoon. About a foot of water slowed drivers down, but didn't cause too many problems.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the case near I-40 in Cary, where a tree fell across the eastbound exit ramp to Harrison Avenue. It didn't damage any cars, but motorists had to slow down to maneuver around the mess.

Wet roads might have played a role in an early-afternoon accident on a Beltline exit ramp. The car was heading from Glenwood Avenue onto the outer beltline when it flipped over on the exit ramp. There's no word on any injuries or charges.

Quarter-size hail was reported about 12:30 p.m. in Garner near the White Oak Shopping Center on U.S. 70. The storm also toppled trees in Wake, Warren, Johnston, Franklin, Northampton and Columbus counties, according to damage reports logged by the National Weather Service.

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