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Lightning fire displaces Lilburn family of five

LILBURN -- Summer lightning storms continued to wreak havoc on Gwinnett residents Thursday when a Lilburn family of five was displaced by a powerful strike that sparked a fire.

Since early June, lighting strikes in Gwinnett have been linked to brush fires, gas leaks and several destructive home fires, including the predawn blaze Thursday in the 2400 block of Dakota Trail.

Five occupants -- two adults and three children -- were awakened about 4:30 a.m. by a "purple flash" and loud explosion. Smoke alarms blared and the family escaped unharmed, said Fire Department spokesman Capt. Thomas Rutledge.

Fire crews brought the blaze under control in about an hour, but not before it heavily damaged the garage, second floor and attic, Rutledge said.

The incident marks the second Lilburn family of five displaced by a lightning fire in as many weeks.

"This fire demonstrates the powerful energy contained in a lightning strike," Rutledge said.

Firefighters believe lightning hit the ground in the backyard, close to the house, and traveled inside the home.

"There is a defined hole in the ground from the strike," Rutledge said.