MAPLE GROVE, Minn. (WCCO) — Metro area fire officials said Tuesday a handful of Twin Cities homes have been struck by lightning in the past couple of weeks.
One Maple Grove man helped his neighbors escape after lightning struck Monday night in the 9300 block of Magnolia Lane North. Lightning struck the attic of the home at about 6 p.m., and there is now a tarp covering the affected area. It is just one of the various types of damage seen at homes across the state with the recent weather.
“That lightning tore up their house. It put a 4×2 hole in the side of their home,” Ken Patnode said.
Patnode first noticed something was wrong when his TV went out during the storm, prompting him to go outside. The family who lives at the home escaped safely and is staying elsewhere while the damage is repaired. Fire chiefs in Ham Lake and Burnsville said they have seen similar situations in the past few weeks.
Fire officials said the best thing to do during a storm is to stay inside, unplug appliances and absolutely stay out of the shower. They warn homeowners to also unplug electrical items, like a computer or air conditioner.
“Most of the pipes in our home are either copper or steel. Lightning can travel through all those, it can travel through the electrical system, it can travel through the plumbing system,” said Doug Nelson, Burnsville’s assistant fire chief. “So stay off the phone, things like that.”
Authorities said last year, there were 6,330 structure fires in Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety said lightning was the cause of 102 fires.There were 6,433 structure fires in 2012 in Minnesota; lightning was determined to be the cause of 141 of those fires.
Homeowners can take measures to prevent lightning from starting a fire in a home or at least detecting it early. Some homeowners install lightning rods on their roof, although they are not required by state laws. Those who do need an electrical permit to install one, and the total cost is about $2,500.
Fire officials said the most important safety measure for homeowners is to having working smoke detectors. Those should be checked at least once per year.