Lightning strikes restaurant, blamed for house fire in West Plains

WEST PLAINS, Mo. -- Saturday morning storms packed quite the lightning as they moved through West Plains. Two lightning-related emergencies kept first responders busy.

The storm-related 911 calls started just after 9 am at Jimmie's Family Restaurant. Workers say they were inside when lightning struck the back part of the building.

"It sounded just like a bomb," employee Cheryl Walker told KY3.

It knocked out lights, the phone lines, fryers, and the drink machine.

"We had seen a gentlemen coming in and when we turned around he wasn't coming in anymore, Walker said. One of the cooks was coming around the corner and she literally saw it lift him up and throw him down. We think lightning hit back there and came across the building and hit the truck and got him."

Paramedics determined the man hadn't been struck but suffered minor injuries when he hit the ground.

Employees say the force of the strike knocked the man down.

Then just 30 minutes later, dozens of firefighters responded to a fire inside a home in southwest West Plains. It was a hidden fire, if you will. That made it dangerous for firefighters.

Firefighters say a lightning strike near the home is the cause of the fire.

"It tripped multiple breakers at the same time. There was charring around outlets that were away from the fire," Lt. Chris Brockelbank added.

Firefighters say the fire damaged several composite I beam floor joints that caused a portion of the floor to collapse.

The hidden fire caused a firefighter to fall through the floor up to his waist.

"I started around a corner, felt that the floor was really soft. I fell through the floor. My partner grabbed me and kept me from falling all the way to the basement," Lt. Chris Bell explained.

But firefighters got some help from the fire too - it melted a water line that became a sprinkler system of sorts.

"It would have been a total loss fire. With it burning that small water line, we were able to put it out," Brockelbank exclaimed.

No one was home at the time, but the family's dog didn't make it.

No firefighters were injured.