House Fire Sparked By Lightning Strike

Friday, March 9th 2007, 8:36 pm
By: News On 6

A Tulsa family gets proof that Mother Nature can be dangerous when a lightning strike catches their house on fire. It happened Friday morning in the 1700 block of South Rockford. No one was home, so no one was hurt, but News On 6 anchor Jennifer Loren reports the woman who lives there is still shocked that it happened to her.

"I saw this huge, I mean huge, fireball come down and BAM! It literally jumped me out of bed," said one witness. "I didn't realize it was so close, I'm so glad nobody was in that house."

Mary Beth Ritchie was at work and her two sons at school when neighbors frantically called her to report that their house was on fire.

"My big reaction was wondering if my little dogs were okay," said Ritchie.

Tulsa firefighters were able to save their dogs, but they estimate the home suffered $30-$50,000 in damage. Ritchie and her boys haven't figured out exactly what they lost, but Ritchie says the inside of her home looks like its been, well, hit by lightning.

"It’s very unusual, part of it is just gutted and part of it is practically untouched," she said.

Firefighters say the lightning actually struck a tree first, peeling a spiral of bark off the limb before moving onto the house, catching it on fire.

"I think its bizarre,” Ritchie said. “I can't believe that it was hit by lightning."

Ritchie says she never worried about lightning, and she never thought about protecting her home from it either. Experts say installing a lightning rod on your roof can direct the lightning strike away from the things that matter to you most.

Lightning rods should be professionally installed, they’re made of copper and have wiring that runs down to the ground, safely directing the lightning there.