At 10:30 p.m. Monday, local firefighters were dispatched to a structure fire on Bigler Lane in Peterson. Ten firefighters from station 121 and four firefighters from station 131 responded with three engines. According to Morgan County Fire Warden Boyd Carrigan, when crews arrived at the scene, the homeowner was visibly shaken. We were greeted by the homeowner, who advised us the house had been struck by lightning and he had a smell of smoke in the basement. He said he had never been bounced out of bed like that before, commented Carrigan. Upon initial investigation, crews found that the lightning had hit a HAM radio antenna that was bolted to the house. The lightning charge found its way down the antenna coax and inside the house, where it came out, knocked some pictures off the walls and dislodged some interior trim. The voltage charge then found its way down the electrical wiring and blew out the electric switches. Ultimately, no fire was found and the homeowner was advised to have an electrician check all the wiring in the house. While there was no fire found in this case, homeowners are strongly encouraged to call the fire department in the event your house suffers a direct hit because some fires inside the walls and attic may not be immediately apparent and not easily accessible. Carrigan reminds residents that while it is incredibly rare for lightening to strike a home, if it happens to you, your first concern should be to immediately check for any fires that may have ignited. The most common place for lightning-caused fires in a home is in the attic, but they can start anywhere the lightning has traveled. Direct skin contact with earth ground should also be avoided, as lightning current can travel through soil and across wet/damp concrete. Wear shoes if walking in a basement, garage or patio. You should also watch for falling debris from damaged chimneys, shingles or walls. Common paths lightning can follow in a house are along wiring and pipes. The best thing to do is stay away from those paths as best as possible during a storm. Direct contact with them 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. Wireless devices are safe to use (cell phones, cordless phones, remotes, etc).
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