Lightning sets houses on fire

DULUTH -- A lightning strike set fire to the Duluth home of its vacationing residents Tuesday evening, enveloping it in flames and charring everything inside.

Gwinnett County firefighters responded to a fire call at the home on the 2900 block of Towne Village Drive in Duluth about 6:20 p.m., with two neighbors witnessing the lightning strike, Gwinnett fire spokesman Capt. Tommy Rutledge said.

The blaze spread so quickly that residual smoke made a next door neighbor think his house was also on fire, Rutledge said.

"Flames were shooting through roof," Rutledge said. "You almost couldn't see the ... building at certain times due to the heavy smoke."

No injuries were reported despite still-stormy conditions, though one firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion.

Lightning also struck an apartment building just a few miles down the road.

About 6:30 p.m., Rutledge said, a confirmed lightning strike set fire to a building in the Reserve at Sugarloaf apartment complex at 2605 Meadow Church Road.

Firefighters were able to contain the blaze to the attic of the three-story building. No injuries were reported, but six apartments were affected by water and smoke and several residents were displaced.

"We were busy tonight," Rutledge said. "We had several reports of fires but only two actual confirmed or working fires."