Lightning Strikes W-S Woman's Home, Causes Delayed Fire

11:07 PM, May 24, 2013   |    comments
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Winston-Salem, NC- If lightning strikes your home, you might not see a fire, at least not immediately.

Flames might burst seconds, minutes, hours, maybe even days later. After lightning hit Ethel Brown's home in Winston-Salem, it wasn't until 15 minutes later she smelt smoke and then saw flames.

READ: Lightning Strikes Home; FD Estimates $80K of Damage

"Kabowah! And I'm like oh, gosh. That lightning struck something," explained Ethel Brown. "And I had no idea it had struck my home."

"I went on down the hall and then all of a sudden that big smoke just barreled up."

By the time Ethel Brown got outside, she says flames were shooting out of her roof.

"It's just heartbreaking when you lose everything. [There is] over 40 something years, there is a lot of love in that house. And a lot of memories," said Brown.

Although uncommon, fires like Brown's aren't unheard of.

Since 2010, the Winston-Salem Fire Department has investigated 12 house fires caused by lightning and, some took even longer than Brown's to ignite.

Captain Monte Cockerham says he's heard of fires that have taken days to start.

"9 times out of 10, if it doesn't surface, no one has been home to see the signs, it sits there and smolders, smolders, smolders and will finally break lose inside the attic or wall days later," explained Cockerham.

As for Brown, the time between the lighting strike and the fire might have been what saved her life.

"Right now, I'm not even thinking about earthly things, just that I'm blessed," said Brown. "Like they say you walk through the fire, I have walked through it and I'm blessed."

Brown says she's not sure if her home will have to be torn down, or if it can be repaired. She lost a majority of her belongings. She does have insurance and the Red Cross is helping. 

WFMY News 2

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