Homes catch fire from possible lightning strikes

PHOENIX (KSAZ) -- Some Valley residents got a scary wake up call over the weekend, when their house caught on fire.

At around 6:45 Sunday morning, firefighters responded to a house fire just off of Ray and Kyrene Roads.

"When firefighters arrived on the scene they encountered heavy smoke and flames coming from the roof of the home," said Brandon Siebert with Tempe Fire Department.

Several neighbors reported hearing a loud bang and flash leading up to the flames.

"Initial reports from 911 callers are that this is possibly related to a lightning strike, however at this point in time the investigation is still early on and we cannot confirm that," said Siebert.

But they have a reason to believe it could have been lightning.

"We did have a thunderstorm rolling through the area at that time and multiple people did hear a loud bang in the hours leading up to the fire being discovered," explained Siebert.

Even though the investigation is ongoing, one thing is for sure, the homeowner is lucky to be alive. A family member tells us he was awoken by his two dogs who also made it out safely.

"As you can see we did have the ladder truck put the areal ladder in the air so we were able to spray water from the air into the attic space and living space into the home due to the dangers that are involved with climbing on tile," says Siebert.

Meanwhile, less than 10 miles away in Scottsdale another lightning strike hit a home in the area of 78th Street and Chapparal. This incident happened at around 5:30 a.m. on Sunday, when Don Ekstrand and his wife were asleep. It was raining, and Ekstrand said it's af if a bomb went off.

"This thing here was just a boom," said Ekstrand. ""Really, really loud."

Ekstrand got up to investigate, but returned to bed as he didn't see anything out of place. Five minutes later, a pungent smell began to invade the house.

"Even neighbors came down, two block away, within 30 minutes because of the smell that was getting into their homes," said Ekstrand. "It stuck terrible, so we got out of there."

Eventually, Scottsdale firefighters came and tackled the smoldering fire in the attic that was touched off by the strike. They had to pull down sections of the ceiling to get to the source of the fire.

On Monday, a restoration company surveyed the damage, which is severe. The Ekstrands could be out of their home for six months or longer, while the damage is being repaired.

"Judging from my inspection, it will be framing, roofing, wiring, new cabinets, flooring, sheet rock," said Harry Blaker with Titan Restoration. "Much of their furniture will be salvageable and restorable."