Stray lightning bolt may have started N.S. house fire
Published Wednesday, July 18, 2012 12:25PM ADT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 18, 2012 6:52PM ADT
A Nova Scotia family escaped a house fire early this morning that may have been caused by a lightning strike.
The blaze started at a home on Richard Street in Elmsdale, N.S. around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Fire officials say it appears to have started in the back of the home.
Homeowner Anthony Barkhouse says he heard a strange ‘bang’ and managed to get his wife and child to safety.
“I woke up, went out into the kitchen and the whole back deck was engulfed in flames, so the first thing I did was…grab my family and got them out of the house,” says Barkhouse.
The family’s dog was found safe and sound, but they lost their cat in the fire.
Eight area fire departments responded to the blaze, which took about 45 minutes to get under control.
“It was going really well when we got here, through the roof,” says Fire Chief Richard Arnold.
The house was severely damaged in the fire, which investigators believe may have been the result of a lightning strike.
The home is located on the edge of an electrical storm that struck around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Tracey Talbot, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, says roughly 100 to 200 lightning bolts struck between the cloud and ground within an hour.
“That’s not a very large storm, but over a short period of time, that’s a pretty good lightshow that people would have seen,” says Talbot.
She points to heat and humidity as thunderstorm triggers while Arnold says the recent lack of rainfall has also made for dangerous conditions.
“I don’t think it rained enough last night,” says Arnold. “It made the ground look wet but it didn’t do enough to reduce the fire hazard at all.”
Nova Scotia’s fire index is still showing areas of high risk and a fire ban that started last week is still in effect.
Dan Davis, a spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources, says no date is set for the ban to be lifted, but he hopes it will be over soon.
“There’s certainly a hope,” says Davis. “Conditions right now, it still looks like we’re going to be a very high risk for forest fires.”
While firefighters have cleared the scene in Elmsdale, Barkhouse says the mess left behind is hard to take.
“We’re doing OK…the best we can be.”
With files from CTV Atlantic's Felicia Yap