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Thunder prompts fire call: Lightning strike ignites house fire on Green Lake

An early morning lightning strike Saturday caused extensive damage to this home overlooking Green Lake near the Green Lake Bible Camp on the 9200 block of Lake Avenue South, Spicer. The lighting split open this oak tree, blew out concrete and carved a 20-foot long trench on its path. Tribune photo by Tom Cherveny

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correctly identify the Green Lake Bible Camp in the story.

SPICER — An early-morning lightning strike ignited a fire that caused extensive damage to a house overlooking Green Lake near the Green Lake Bible Camp on Saturday.

The fire damaged the home of Hank and Beverly Abbett on the 9200 block of Lake Avenue South, Spicer. It might have been much worse but for the fact that the Spicer Fire Department had been called to a neighboring residence moments after the lightning bolt struck around 5 a.m.

Spicer Fire Chief Mike Holme said fire fighters arrived at a residence two lots to the west after residents there reported damage to their windows, pictures knocked off the walls, and the smell of smoke.

While investigating the damage, fire fighters also smelled the smoke and soon spotted a glow from the Abbett house in the pre-dawn darkness.

Chief Holme said fire fighters immediately responded, initially searching the home for residents. The owners were in Texas, and no one occupied the house.

The fire destroyed a utility room and moved upward to the second story and roof when squelched. The interior suffered smoke damage, the electrical system was destroyed, and there was other charring and heat damage.

The fire would likely have spread throughout the house had not the fire fighters been at the scene due to the first call. The fire could easily have had another 10 to 15 minutes of burn time before being detected and reported, the fire chief noted.

There was a strong wind coming off the lake at the time as well.

The lightning bolt split apart an oak tree near the home, blasted apart a portion of concrete on the driveway, and followed the electrical service into the home, causing the electrical surge that destroyed the main circuit panel and burned electrical sockets throughout the home.

The lightning bolt tore open a roughly 20-foot long trench, about 1½ feet deep on its path, said the chief.

Spicer fire fighters were assisted by New London fire fighters on the scene. Also responding were the New London ambulance and Spicer first responders.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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