Lightning charge travels underground to ignite fires at two Apple Valley homes
A bolt of lightning that struck a tree in Apple Valley on Sunday night started fires in two homes in the 6000 block of Lower 131st Court West, according to Fire Chief Nealon Thompson.
No one was injured in the twin blazes that started at about 11:30 p.m., but the home at 6003 Lower 131st St. Court W. had significant damage was unable to be occupied the next morning as people living in the homes were evacuated and took shelter at neighboring residences.
A total of 10 residents were evacuated for approximately five hours during the incident at the cul-de-sac that is located about a 1/2 mile south of McAndrew Road and adjacent to Johnny Cake Ridge Road.
Thompson described the fires starting after the lightning charge struck the tree, traveled underground through a tracer wire collocated with a natural gas utility to the two homes that were separated by another residence. Once the electrical charge reached the gas meters, it arched creating mechanical damage to each meter and igniting the gas, according to the Apple Valley fire marshal.
The two-alarm fire was worked by 36 firefighters who extinguished the structural fires and called CenterPoint Energy to secure the natural gas leaks in both homes.
After CenterPoint secured the gas to both homes, firefighters continued “extinguishment and overhaul,” according to Thompson.