Possible lightning strike sparks fire, destroys Taney County home

Published: Jan. 12, 2020 at 10:01 PM CST
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People around the Ozarks are still assessing the damage from the severe storms that hit the area Friday. but it's not only limited to destruction caused by strong winds or tornadoes. Fire crews believe lightning from this weekend's storms caused a fire that destroyed a home in Taney County.

That fire hit close to home for Shauna Storm.

"That could've been me," Storm said. "It could've been anybody."

She lives just two doors down from the house that is now a pile of ash.

"It's just unrecognizable," Storm said.

A thunderstorm hit the Kissee Mills, Mo. area Friday night. Fire officials believe lightning started the fire's spark.

Central Taney County Fire Chief Doug Bower said the homeowner heard a loud clap of thunder and then started smelling smoke.

Smoke was coming from the garage, according to Brower, and quickly spread.

The homeowner escaped house and is not hurt. Bower said what saved his life was that he got out and stayed out, which is imperative in any fire emergency.

For Storm, this has been a learning experience.

"This is a perfect example of, you know, what can happen," she said.

Fire Chief Doug Bower said he's seen about 15 to 20 house fires caused by lightning. He said he believes a bolt hit the house directly and called the event an "act of nature."

Bower said there is no sure-fire defense against a strike, but said solid grounding rods and electrical suppressing systems are the best ways to minimize the damage.

Storm, who said she is prepared for power outages and tornados, is now more aware of what lightning can do.

"As a child, we're taught, trees, things that are higher up in the sky, the higher up the more susceptible it is to being struck. That's not the case," she said.

Other officials encourage homeowners to unplug electronics to keep them from frying if your house is struck, and keep faucets turned off, as the lightning's electricity can even travel through plumbing.

"Most people don't even think about that simple little thing like that until you see something like this of this caliber face-to-face in your own backyard," Storm said.

While this January incident was a bit bizarre for both fire officials and neighbors, it's proof a storm can strike any time.

Bower said he plans to work with the National Weather Service to determine the exact time of lightning strikes in the area of the fire Friday night.