Thunder rolls, lightning strikes house, travels into laundry room

Fire crews responded after lightning struck a Washington City home, made its way into the laundry room and ignited a small fire, Washington City, Utah, June 13, 2016 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News

WASHINGTON CITY — Lightning struck a Washington City home Monday morning, igniting a small fire and leaving a minor trail of destruction during its journey to the ground.

At approximately 6:35 a.m., fire crews responded to a report of a structure fire at a home on the 1500 East block of Majestic Drive.

Lightning struck a Washington City home, made its way into the laundry room and ignited a small fire, Washington City, Utah, June 13, 2016 | Photo by Austin Peck, St. George News
Lightning struck a Washington City home, made its way into the laundry room and ignited a small fire, Washington City, Utah, June 13, 2016 | Photo by Austin Peck, St. George News

The home had been struck by lightning, Washington City Firefighter Mike Harris said, adding that the bolt of lightning made its way into the laundry room of the home.

“There was a hanger that was dropped down behind the dryer,” Harris said, “and the lightning made contact with it and the gas line – the flex line – that’s where it exited.”

The lightning strike burnt a hole in some flex wire, Harris said, resulting in gas expelling from the flex line.

“The homeowner was actually here and she heard it and smelled the smoke and then smelled the gas,” Harris said. “(The homeowner) called her neighbor, and then her neighbor came over and shut the gas off for her and called us.”

According to Storm Highway, a cloud-to-ground lightning bolt will find the path of least resistance from the cloud as it travels deep into the ground. Most houses are filled with many potential routes for lightning to follow in its journey – including gas and water pipes, electric lines, phone lines, cable television and internet lines, gutters and metal window frames.

Can you get struck by lightning inside a house?

Lightning struck a Washington City home, made its way into the laundry room and ignited a small fire, Washington City, Utah, June 13, 2016 | Photo by Austin Peck, St. George News

While it is rare, it is possible to receive a lightning injury inside a house. Burns and electric shock injuries can occur when someone is in direct contact with one of lightning’s chosen paths to the ground.

The most common indoor lightning injuries involve a person talking on a corded phone or resting on and looking out a metal-framed window, according to Storm Highway.

Staying safe from lightning indoors

The best thing to do is stay away from the common paths lightning follows in a house – wiring and pipes – as best as possible during a storm. Direct contact with these areas should be avoided. This includes taking a shower or bath, washing hands, doing dishes, typing on a computer, playing video games and using a wired phone, tool or appliance. Metal-framed windows should be avoided.

What to do if lightning strikes your house

If your home is directly hit by lightning, your immediate concern should be for any fires that may have been ignited, according to Storm Highway.

While the most common place for lightning-caused fire in a home is in the attic, fires can ignite anywhere the lightning has traveled. If your house suffers a direct hit, authorities recommend calling the fire department, as some fires inside the walls and attic may not be immediately apparent and not easily accessible.

This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

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Email: kscott@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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4 Comments

  • r2d2 June 13, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    Good thing the neighbor knew how to shut off the gas. Everyone should know how to do that.

    • .... June 14, 2016 at 6:36 am

      Yeah they can be glad the neighbor was there. it wouldn’t of taken long for things to go from bad to worse in a hurry

  • ladybugavenger June 13, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    That’s amazing! I bet the insurance company doesn’t cover a wire hanger

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