Lightning sparks two major house fires

A strong thunderstorm moved through the area on Sunday evening and a severe thunderstorm warning was issued by the National Weather Service for northern Gwinnett County.

Fire Investigators have determined that lightning caused a house fire on the 1900 block of Farmwood Drive in Lawrenceville on Sunday evening that left four adults and four children homeless.


1900 block of Farmwood Drive in Lawrenceville

1900 block of Farmwood Drive in Lawrenceville

According to Gwinnett Fire Capt. Tommy Rutledge, crews found heavy fire showing from the basement of a two-story wood frame house on arrival. The fire quickly spread to the second floor and into the attic. He said the blaze caused heavy damage to the structure and sent smoke and heat throughout.

"The basement was unfinished and was being used for storage of miscellaneous household goods and a gasoline can," Rutledge said. "The gas can may have provided additional fuel for the fire once it erupted."

The eight occupants of the home all escaped unharmed.

Firefighters also responded to an occupant report of a house fire on the 200 block of Deville Circle in Suwanee.


200 block of Deville Circle in Suwanee

200 block of Deville Circle in Suwanee

Rutledge said that crews found heavy flames and smoke shooting from the roof of a single-story wood frame house on arrival. Firefighters made immediate entry to battle the blaze and conduct a primary search.

"Fire crews reported intense heat and deteriorating conditions in the attic moments later, which forced them to back-out and battle the blaze from outside," he said. "The center of the roof collapsed shortly after fire crews pulled lines out and went to a defensive mode of operation."

Four occupants (two adults and two children) were home asleep at the time and escaped unharmed. They were awoken by a 'Red Alert' warning on their cell phones provided by the city of Suwanee.

"At almost the same time as the warning, lightning hit the roof of the home, igniting an intense attic fire," Rutledge said.

Rutledge said the home is a total loss due to the fire.

"We are fortunate that no one was hurt and that the family is ok," Rutledge said. "(The family) was provided with an early warning of approaching storms."

According to Rutledge, "if you suspect a lightning strike, be sure to check the attic and basement first. Be prepared to evacuate immediately if you encounter smoke or flames." If your home is safe, quickly check outside in case lightning hit a neighboring house. Never re-enter a burning home for any reason."

Firefighters urge citizens to stay alert to the changing weather conditions. Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio and be prepared to take action when storms approach.

"Summer means pop-up severe thunderstorms are possible on any given day," Rutledge said.