July 30, 2008

Lightning Suspected in Sea Pines House Fire

By Daniel Brownstein, The Island Packet, Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Jul. 30--Sometimes lightning does strike twice.

A fire destroyed much of a Sea Pines home Tuesday afternoon after a strong storm blew across Hilton Head Island.

The fire, at 29 Wild Wood Road, started smoldering some time around 3:30 p.m.

The Town of Hilton Head Island Fire and Rescue Division got the call at 3:33 p.m., but the first of four engines and a ladder truck didn't arrive until 3:56 p.m. because crews were tied up with six other calls related to the storm, according to spokeswoman Joheida Fister.

Flames shot from the attic of the ranch-style home and singed the tall trees surrounding it. The humidity kept the thick smoke close to the ground, making it look as if the woods surrounding the home also were ablaze.

It took about 25 minutes to get the fire under control.

The 2,600 square-foot home is owned by a North Carolina couple. They rent it as a vacation property. No one was home at the time of the fire.

About three-quarters of the home was destroyed. The fire's cause is being declared "a probable lightning strike," Fister said.

Larry Brideau of Atlanta was with his family riding back to the neighborhood from the beach when he heard a loud clap of thunder.

"I said, "'Wow, that sounded like it hit our street,'" he recalled.

He and his family, staying a few doors down, smelled smoke from the fire scene but couldn't pinpoint the spot until some time later.

It was the second recent fire likely sparked by lightning in the small neighborhood.

On July 11, a nearby home at 13 Forest Drive also caught fire. The roof of that house still is covered by a


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