Smith County fire officials are investigating a rash of fires that broke out during a severe lightning storm Sunday morning. All of the fires happened in the southern portion of Smith County in the Bullard, Noonday and Flint-Gresham areas.
One of the most destructive happened in the Emerald Bay community near Bullard. A couple asleep in their beds awoke to a devastating fire early Sunday morning. The blaze started when lightning struck their residence, setting a fire that destroyed almost everything they own.
"Its a very sad thing," says Tom Tracy, a board member with the Emerald Bay community."The owner of the home was a prolific artists who had many paintings on the wall, which of course, most were unrecoverable."
It took six fire units, six hours to completely put out the fire. Tracy says a power outage caused a delay in water pumps serving area firefighters, and severe weather forestalled fire fighting efforts.
"On two separate occasions the firemen had to retreat into their trucks for safety reasons because of the lightening storm," says Tracy.
Around the same time, a few miles away, lightning struck the home of Bettie Callier.
"It came exactly through this kitchen window," recalls Callier. "It went directly to the oven and lit it up."
Fire Marshal Jim Seaton says he's investigating three other fires related to the storm. One happened after a power outage.
"A homeowner lit a candle to maintain some kind of light in the structure," says Seaton. "The candle fell over and ignited the top of a dresser inside the bedroom."