When it comes to weather it's called the under-rated killer

Lightning destroyed the home of Fred Nilsen and family.
Lightning destroyed the home of Fred Nilsen and family.

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - This week is Severe Weather Awareness Week, and tornadoes aren't the only natural phenomenon that can result in death and destruction.

Fred Nilsen is all too familiar with the destruction caused by weather. He's having his home rebuilt from a storm last summer.

His new place will have a new safe room and will provide shelter for his family if they need to wait out a tornado. 

His new concrete, barricaded den wouldn't have mattered last summer. That's when another type of natural disaster destroyed the place he's called home for 16 years.

On Sunday July 10th, 2011, Fred Nilsen and his family heard a piercing boom and breaking glass. A few minutes later, their home went up in flames.

"From the time of the boom to the time we were out the door, it was less than 10 minutes," said Nilsen.

Firefighters say lightning sparked the fire. Fortunately, Fred and his family made it out safely from the smoke and bright orange flames. They lost almost all of their belongings in the blaze.

"Who thinks about lightning? We live in Tornado Alley and we're ready for tornadoes but lightning?" said Nilsen.

It's on the mind of Fred and his family now. A strike that took only seconds to ignite his home has kept the Nilsens in an apartment for eight trying months.

"Just having good neighbors and friends in the community to help us is probably what made it bearable because I couldn't see anybody doing this all by themselves," Nilsen added.

The Nilsens hope that their new house will be finished in June.

What can you learn from the Nilsens? For one, they want others to know that it didn't take long for the home to crash down in flames. You need a plan for getting yourself out of your home for any type of fire.

Just like you would for a tornado, the Nilsens advise documenting what you have in your home before it's too late. Take pictures or video of any and everything of value.

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