Shock treatment: Deflecting homes from dangerous lightning - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Shock treatment: Deflecting homes from dangerous lightning

(Source: WAFF) (Source: WAFF)

Unless you sleep like a rock, you probably heard loud, strong thunderstorms as they passed through the early morning hours.

Lightning is believed to be the leading suspect behind several house fires Monday.

"Oh yeah, we woke about like two or 2:30 a.m., somewhere in there, and a big boom," said Huntsville resident Rebecca Boley. "Big enough for us to look around make sure everybody and the dogs and cats were okay."

Rebecca Boley says it wasn't long after hearing that loud boom that her neighbor's house was up in flames. 

"We knew lightning struck somewhere close by because it was loud and it was immediate with the light at the same time," she said.

Lightning is likely responsible for a total of four fires as a line of storms rolled through. 

Fire Marshal Dan Wilkerson says this is the time of year when lightning causes the most house fires, adding that it is difficult to predict.

"In some cases, houses did have lightning rods. It still struck the house versus hitting the lightning rod or the air terminal," said Wilkerson.

With skepticism over the protection lightning rods may provide, Wilkerson says there are other things you can do.

"Especially if you have an older home, make sure the home is properly grounded; that is going to help prevent a lot of your damage. That way lightning would have a path to ground to follow," he said.

"Whenever you see something like this happen you always think, 'If it'd happen to me, you would recognize how much of a loss it would be,' when you think about the stuff you have in your home," Boley said. 

A report from the National Weather Service shows 58 cases of lightning fires since 2011 resulting in millions of dollars in structural damages.

Click here for a guide on surge protection and other ways to protect your house and its contents from lightning.

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