Firefighters with the Forsyth County Fire Department responded to lightning strikes at four south Forsyth County homes before noon on Wednesday as storms rolled through metro-Atlanta and north central Georgia.
Reports of lightning strikes came in for homes on Gran Forest Drive, Flagstaff Drive, Eaglerock Drive and Summerwind Way. There were no injuries and “varying degrees” of damage.
“Lightning strikes causing fires are not the least bit uncommon for metro-Atlanta and, of course, not uncommon in Forsyth County,” Division Chief Jason Shivers said.
Rain and thunderstorms came in bands through Wednesday night, with damaging winds in excess of 60 miles per hour.
Shivers said the worst of the four blazes, and the only one with a structure fire, was on Gran Forest. Two adults and their grandchild were in the home when it was struck.
“The house sustained damage to the attic space, the second floor and a bonus room,” he said. “The owner said he knew the home was hit by lightning as soon as he heard it; he could tell by the immediate sound and the way the house shook. He went outside to check and saw smoke and flames.”
Lightning reportedly did not hit the house but spread from a nearby tree.
“Lightning hit an adjacent pine tree at the very top of the pine tree and ran that all the way to the ground, where it jumped to the home and set it on fire,” Shivers said.
Homeowner Jeff Evans credited firefighters with saving most of the home, especially his prized 1985 Fiat Spyder stored in the garage. The family was displaced by the fire and reportedly staying with family members.
“We were able to salvage a lot of his valuables; a car that was very special to him in the garage,” Shivers said. “He also had a couple of dogs, and they all made it out fine.”
Shivers said the first strike firefighters responded to was on Flagstaff, which caused damage but did not burn.
“It blew out a brick wall, charred some of the structural members of the home, but never actually set it on fire,” he said.
Later in the day, crews responded to Eaglerock and Summerwind, where alarms went off due to strikes.
“The one on Eaglerock caused some smoke in the home and the fire alarms to sound, but no fire,” Shivers said. “The one on Summerwind, it doesn’t sound like it did any damage to it, just enough to rattle the home and cause the fire alarm to sound, but did not set it on fire.”
Shivers said the storms caused some issues for firefighters, but that it comes with the job.
“We’ve been working in heavy rain, most of the time with lightning continuing to pop all around us in multiple locations,” he said. “It’s some tough conditions for us, but that’s the life we live, and on days like this, troops have to expect to work in bad conditions, and they’ll be wet their entire shift and that’s part of the job.”
Online editor Jim Dean contributed to this report.