June 25, 2009

Lightning Strike Causes Fire at Johnson Residence

A brief thunderstorm Friday afternoon proved devastating for one rural Scotland County residence. At 4:51 p.m. the Scotland County dispatch was notified of a fire at the Jim Johnson residence located northeast of Crawford in rural Scotland County.

Upon arrival the Scotland County fire department found heavy smoke coming from the upstairs portion of the home. Fifteen firemen and five fire trucks battled the blaze and were on the scene for approximately four hours. The fire caused extensive damage to the property.

The fire department was assisted at the scene by the Scotland County Sheriffs Department and Scotland County Ambulance Service.

The Missouri State Fire Marshalls office investigated the scene the following day and concluded through electrical evidence at the scene that the fire was caused by a lightning strike.

The fire marshal demonstrated that lightning strikes on buildings often result in high-voltage discharges through the homes electrical outlets, which often times result in fires, said Scotland County Fire Chief Bryan Whitney. That was the case in this instance, as the marshal identified the source of the fire to be the electric outlet near the homes washer and dryer.

The fire chief stated no one was home at the time of the fire. He added that the blaze likely had a significant head start on emergency responders, because it was reported by a neighbor only after the blaze had enough time to generate enough smoke to be visible at the home down the road.

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