Lightning culprit in home fire

SUWANEE - Lightning from storms that barreled through Gwinnett on Wednesday morning is to blame in a house fire on Pendleton Place in Suwanee, officials said.

Investigators believe the fire, reported at 10:51 a.m., was ignited when lightning struck the home and sparked an electrical outlet in the master bedroom, said Fire Department spokesman Capt. Thomas Rutledge.

The home was vacant at the time, and no injuries were reported. The blaze heavily damaged the second floor, Rutledge said.

The home's owner, an adult woman, returned shortly after fire crews arrived. She was transported to Gwinnett Medical Center to be evaluated for a medical emergency unrelated to the fire, Rutledge said.

By mid-afternoon, Rutledge said the fire appeared to be the only storm-related call fielded by the Fire Department.

Officials contacted the Red Cross to assist the lone occupant, who was displaced by the damage.

Small fire strikes Duluth church

DULUTH - Fire investigators believe a faulty wall thermostat could be responsible for a small fire in a Duluth church Tuesday evening.

Parishioners found smoke upon opening the doors of Elim Church at 3480 Howell St. in Duluth at 6:40 p.m. and called 911, an official said.

Fire crews traced the small fire to an empty room near the back of the single-story structure, Rutledge said.

"The blaze was contained to the area of origin and caused minimal damage," he said.

Rutledge said the fire appears accidental, possibly the result of an electrical short in a wall thermostat.

No one was at the church at the time of the fire, and no injuries were reported.

Fire disrupts Norcross business

NORCROSS - A small fire disrupted business Wednesday morning at a QuikTrip gas station in the 4700 block of Peachtree Corners Circle.

Firefighters found flames behind the building when they arrived after 10:30 a.m. They extinguished the blaze before it spread inside the store, Rutledge said.

"The store was closed for a short time as crews worked," Rutledge said.

The exact cause of the fire is under investigation. No injuries were reported.

Candle to blame in apartment blaze

NORCROSS - An unattended candle sparked an apartment fire in the 6200 block of Norcross Tucker Road on Wednesday afternoon, officials said.

Firefighters contained the blaze, reported by residents at 4:13 p.m., to a bedroom in the two-story apartment building, where it caused minor damage, Rutledge said.

Managers of the complex stepped in to assist three displaced occupants of the home, Rutledge said.

"This fire is a prime example of how fast a blaze can start due to an unattended candle," he said.

Typically, firefighters see an increase in residential fires due to candles and other festive decorations during the holiday season, he said.

Neon sign catches fire

LILBURN - At about 7:52 p.m. Wednesday, Gwinnett firefighters responded to a business in the 800 block of Indian Trail Road after reports of a neon sign on fire.

Department spokesman Capt. Thomas Rutledge said crews arrived to find flames showing, but the blaze was put out immediately. The fire was contained to the sign and did not reach the inside of the building.

Rutledge said the fire appears accidental and believes it was caused by excessive water in the sign from heavy rain.