News 12 at 11 o'clock, July 27, 2010
MARTINEZ, Ga. --- There were several house fires in the area tonight, and News 12 has confirmed at least one of them was caused by a lightning strike.
A Columbia County family's home is destroyed, but the owner is says it could have been worse. While her home is destroyed, her family is safe, and that, she says, is all that matters.
You can blame a summer storm for the extensive roof damage on a beautiful brick house on Quail Spring Circle in Martinez. Marianne Goss and her husband live at the home. When Goss got a phone call at work late Tuesday, she knew it had to be important. It was a neighbor calling to tell her her home had been struck by lightning.
"She said, 'You need to come home; your house is on fire,'" said Goss. "When I came down Flowing Wells, I saw the smoke and the flames, and I knew it was bad. I just kept praying, 'Please don't let it be too bad.'"
It is bad, but Goss still counts her blessings.
"My first thought was thank God we had no people in the house, and no animals," she said.
Linda Coffman is the quick-thinking neighbor who called 911 and then her friend.
"We saw a really, really large lightning strike that just felt like it was right outside, and we thought it might have hit something close," she said.
That "something close" was her neighbor's home.
"Pretty soon we saw flames coming out of the attic," Coffman said.
Martinez Fire Battalion Chief Danny Kuhlmann responded to calls all evening. He says fires caused by lightning strikes are common in the summer.
"The house was actually struck by lightning, and it struck the tree next to the house, and it came in on the tree," said Kuhlmann.
Goss says she is thankful to have caring and alert neighbors and friends that she can count on.
"You just never believe something like that's going to happen to you," said Goss. "But we will rebuild and make it better than it is now, or whatever the case may be, but this is where our home is, and this is where we're staying."
The battalion chief says that the extent of the damage goes beyond the attic. There is water damage in the lower level of the home and lots of items were damaged that way. Goss says they'll talk to the insurance company to determine the next move.