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Lightning strike sparks house fire
FREEPORT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A West Michigan family is without a home after a string of strong thunderstorms rolls through overnight.
Firefighters say a lightning strike from that storm caused a fire that destroyed the Barry County home.
In his three decades as a firefighter, Freeport Fire Chief Jim Yarger says lightning striking a building or house has been a rare occurrence. He says he's seen maybe 10 in 30 years.
But early Saturday morning, Mother Nature brought five local fire departments out to this home in rural Barry County to fight her wrath. They say a lightning strike from a passing storm struck the house on William F. Hayes drive just before 3 a.m.
The homeowner was too shaken to go on camera, but says he was woken up when he heard lightning strike the roof of his house and called 9-1-1 after smelling smoke.
The fire quickly spread from the second floor to the garage. Yarger says the house is a total loss: "There's a lot of damage inside. We did hold it, so we got a lot of homeowner's possessions out of the house."
He says lightning can strike anywhere, but homeowners are not totally powerless.
"Make sure you have smoke detectors, working smoke detectors and they'll alert you to get out of the house safely," Yarger says.
The American Red Cross and neighbors were on scene offering help.