Lightning strikes cause two house fires

DINWIDDIE, VA (WWBT) - Two fires, sparked by lightning, destroy one home and damage another. It all unfolded around 9:30 Sunday night in Dinwiddie County.

The first fire began in the 6200 block of Claiborne Road. The second, in the 25000 block of Cutbank Road.

Bruce Bland says lightning hit the corner of his house causing a hole. Another strike hit a tree -- that bolt traveled down the tree and into Bland's home.

"I saw red coming from under the house. I tried to open the door to see. I thought the stove caught fire," said Bland.

Flames were shooting out of the crawl space beneath the home. In his living room there are holes in the ceiling from the fire.

"This is the first time something like this has ever happened to me," said Bland.

Twenty miles away -- a similar story. Thomas Abernathy's house is a complete loss. He didn't live here. He was renting out the place.

"You never think it could happen to you but it does happen. We'll probably have it (the house) raised and clean up the site," said Abernathy.

Firefighters say it's highly likely that a lightning strike caused the fire.

"It's taken me back a bit to say the least," said Abernathy.

Dinwiddie County was under a thunderstorm warning when the homes caught fire.

"A severe storm in the area -- heavy intense electrical storm," said Fire and EMS Chief, Dennis Hale.

Investigators say the fire at Bland's home smoldered for at least an hour before flames could be seen.

"These fires sometimes are not immediate -- they tend to hit the attics - high spots on the house -- insulation tends to smolder," said Hale.

Bland says he plans to pick up the pieces and fix what Mother Nature destroyed. No one was hurt in either blaze.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.