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Man struck by lightning dies at UNC

Posted June 16, 2010 9:35 a.m. EDT
Updated June 16, 2010 11:06 p.m. EDT

— A man struck by lightning in Graham on Tuesday died Wednesday afternoon at the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, CBS affiliate WFMY reported.

Lightning struck Harocia Ascencio, 19,  as he stood under a tree in his front yard on Mobile Park Road.

Ascencio's mother told WFMY her son's shoe came off and his sock was ripped open. She said smoke was coming from his body. Neighbors quickly called 911.

Neighbor Jose Hernandez performed CPR on Ascencio.

"He smelled like a burned cable. I thought he was dead. I was afraid, but I wanted to save him," Hernandez said.

Ascencio's heart stopped, but he was revived and taken to a nearby hospital. He was then airlifted to UNC Hospitals.

A series of late-day storms across North Carolina this week also sparked a massive fire at a gas tank farm, burned down a church's sanctuary and caused wind damage to other buildings.

Fire investigators suspect that lightning caused fires that damaged two homes on Bell Arthur Drive in Cary. A bolt of lightning struck a tree between the homes, investigators said.

The storms also caused wind damage in Chatham County, said Mark Gaines with the Silk Hope Volunteer Fire Department.

A 2½-foot wide tree fell on a home at 7190 Siler City Snow Camp Road, Gaines said. A family of four that was home at the time escaped unharmed.

Wind and rain also knocked down an old barn used to store hay on Clyde Underwood Road. Scattered reports of downed trees and power lines came in from across the county, Gaines said, but there was no other major damage or injuries.

On Sunday evening, lightning from a series of strong storms struck Nobles Chapel Baptist Church at 7330 Old Raleigh Road in Sims. The 110-year-old church's sanctuary was destroyed, and its steeple collapsed.

Shortly after midnight Saturday, lightning struck a 52,000-barrel gas tank in a large storage farm off Interstate 40 in Greensboro.

The fire was contained to one tank but burned for at least five hours, leaving the tank a melted heap of metal. Interstates 40 and 73 were shut down for more than six hours.