Neighbors Suspect Lightning Played Role in Rehoboth House Fire
A fire on Wednesday morning damaged this house on Prospect Street in Rehoboth Beach, Del. (Photo: WBOC)
REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. - Investigators are trying to determine if lightning is to blame for a Wednesday morning house fire in Rehoboth Beach.
Neighbors reported strong thunder and lightning around the time the fire broke out at 6 Prospect St. No one was inside at the time. Radar images from WBOC-TV show a storm cell moving through the area around 7 a.m.
"It was just a horrific thunderstorm," said Mary Dickson, who was staying in a nearby building. "There were a couple of lightning bolts and you could hear the thunder."
The fire damaged all three floors of the beach house. No one was injured. Neighbors believe lightning played some role in the flames.
"You heard the one hit something but we don't know what," said Dickson.
Firefighters returned to the scene in the afternoon when the house started smoking again. The fire chief said the original fire continued into the afternoon.
While fire investigators are still working on an official cause, lightning has electrified Delaware over the last few days. On Friday, lightning struck four people sitting outside an apartment complex in New Castle County. A bolt also zapped the wind turbine at the University of Delaware's Lewes campus, temporarily shutting it down.
The summer's thunderstorms and lightning have pushed some homeowners to seek lightning rods for protection.
"We're not going to say it's going to prevent lightning from hitting your house but if it does hit your house, it's going to give it a safe path to ground," said John Hazzard with Hazzard Electrical Contractors in Lewes. "At the same time, it's not attracting lightning to your house."
The rod and associated wiring provides the lightning with a route to the ground that avoids the inside of the house, Hazzard said. Modern rods are small, some just a foot long, and designed to fit in with the look of the house. The company can recall at least four homes that started on fire after they were struck by lightning in the last two years in Sussex County, Hazzard said.
The national odds of lightning striking an average home are about one in 200, according to the National Lightning Safety Institute. Hazzard said homes near the beach are at a greater risk.
"Near the beach area the houses are the tallest thing, closer to water," said Hazzard.
Fire investigators have yet to put a price tag on the damage in Rehoboth Beach.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 12:01 PM EDT2013-05-21 16:01:57 GMT
MOORE, Okla. (AP) - Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin says "hearts are broken" for parents wondering about the fate of their children after a tornado devastated suburban Oklahoma City and officials say the searchMore
Emergency crews searched the broken remnants of an Oklahoma City suburb Tuesday for survivors of a massive tornado that flattened homes and demolished an elementary school. At least 24 people were killed, including at least nine children, and those numbers were expected to climb.More
Tuesday, May 21 2013 11:38 AM EDT2013-05-21 15:38:17 GMT
After a devastating twister tore through the mid-west killing dozens, the American Red Cross of the Lower Shore are standing-by.More
After a devastating twister tore through the Midwest killed at least 24 people, the American Red Cross of the Lower Shore in Salisbury is standing by, waiting for word to mobilize a relief effort for Oklahoma.More
Tuesday, May 21 2013 8:03 AM EDT2013-05-21 12:03:41 GMT
SALISBURY, Md.- A former gym teacher who taught at Beaver Run Elementary School in Salisbury was on trial Monday in a "Peeping Tom" case.Jeffrey Brabitz appeared in Wicomico County Circuit Court on chargesMore
A former gym teacher who taught at Beaver Run Elementary School in Salisbury was on trial Monday in a "Peeping Tom" case.More
Tuesday, May 21 2013 10:20 AM EDT2013-05-21 14:20:00 GMT
SEAFORD, Del.- Authorities say a woman was killed when the motorcycle she was riding on as a passenger collided with a pickup truck in Seaford late Monday afternoon. Seaford police said that shortlyMore
Authorities say a woman was killed when the motorcycle she was riding on as a passenger collided with a pickup truck in Seaford late Monday afternoon.More