Lightning strikes spark 3 structure fires near Flagstaff

4 things you should in the event of a lightning strike.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Flagstaff Fire Department crews responded to three structure fires in University Heights, Continental and on Lake Mary Road Sunday after heavy rain and lightning storms passed through the area.

"We had three structures that were hit in and around Flagstaff. Two were in city limits and one was in the Highlands, Kachina area that was hit and three-quarters involved in fire," said Kevin Wilson, a Flagstaff Fire Department fire captain.

A fifth-wheel trailer which was parked under a tree in the Kachina Village area was severely damaged and considered a total loss, according to Wilson. 

One of the lightning strikes within city limits caused damage to the interior of a home when the electrical current traveled through an invisible dog electric fence, blowing out a transformer and some appliances, Wilson said. 

"Typically, you'll see where the lightning hit the house but most of the damage is done inside the home," said Wilson.

Residents near the home that was struck in University Heights say that the home was vacant when the fire broke out on the roof. 

"We were up in the living room then lightning struck, it sounded like our neighbor got hit across the way. We looked and didn't see anything," said Elias Reyes, a resident of University Heights. "About five to ten minutes later, my mom said the house is on fire next door and that's when we sprung into action."

Reyes and his family pulled a garden hose over the backyard fence separating his home from the one on fire.

"We turned on the water hose and started spraying underneath where we saw the flames," said Reyes. "My neighbor across the street came and joined me.About two minutes later the fire department came. I guess we were the first responders to the fire." 

The fire was contained to the roof and attic area, Wilson said.

To prepare for a lightning storm Wilson says to unplug all of your TVs and computers. You should also stay off your phone and stay away from appliances. If your home is struck, call 911 immediately and exit your home.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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