Reporting Bill Hudson
RICHFIELD, Minn. (WCCO) — It was bolts of electricity that caused extensive damage to a handful of metro area homes.
From the street, the blue tarps tacked to the roof and bark torn from a tree are the first signs of trouble. But step inside Lee Wencl’s home and you’ll get the true picture of the destructive power of lightning.
“It was rather like a bomb went off,” said Wencl.
This was the storm that sent bolts of lightning down on a handful of homes across the metro early Tuesday morning. Wencl’s wife was covered with glass after the lightning strike blew out an upstairs bedroom window and air conditioning unit.
“I ran downstairs and outside and looked up and I could see flames coming through the peaks of roof up here,” Wencl added.
The extensive fire, smoke and water damage will cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair. But the worst part is that the homeowners will have to move out while those repairs are made.
Standing in his living room, Wencl points to bulges appearing in the wallpaper. “That’s water, it runs down the walls and they are full of water,” Wencl said.
Hours earlier in Maple Grove, lightning hit a two story home near 63rd and Urbandale Lane. Just as fire fighters were beginning to mop up after that fire, another home was in flames just a couple miles to the east.
“We sent crews in and tried to get upstairs and get into the ceiling and the attic to deal with the fire, but it was too intense. We had to pull them out. Shortly after we pulled them out the roof caved in,” said Maple Grove Fire Chief, Scott Anderson.
Nobody was injured, but unfortunately, the home is a total loss. Wencl and his wife are also looking for temporary shelter. Though dealing with devastation they are still able to look on the brighter side.
Wencl pointed to a glass covered bed and says, “she was sleeping right here and a bolt of lightning hit the window — how lucky is that?”
All the homes hit were covered by insurance. Still, it will take months for repairs and rebuilding, which is the real headache for the owners.
Often times, homeowners don’t even know their house was hit by lightning. The lightning causes little damage to the outside of the house, but it leaves a smoldering fire inside the attic or wall cavity. The best advice is to always call the fire department to check it out. In fact, they have heat sensors that can pinpoint the exact location of a smoldering fire.