South Ga. lightning strike fires spark concerns about safety
ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - South Georgians is seeing more lightning strike incidents as the weather recently has involved a lot of thunderstorms.
The most recent incident reported was a lightning bolt that struck a home in Albany which caused the home to catch fire.
Albany Fire responded to the house fire call on the 600 block of West 2nd Avenue Wednesday afternoon.
Rubin Jordan, assistant fire chief of Albany Fire Department, said these calls are not rare.
“It’s not like every house is getting struck, but that chance is there. It’s not a lot, but it’s enough for us to be vigilant,” Jordan said.
In his 30 years with the Albany Fire Department, Jordan said he expects about 3 calls for fires caused by lightning. He said that number can vary from year to year.
The fire on Wednesday was contained and minor damages were sustained to the house, but fire personnel had to cut the power to the house because it had damage in the attic.
Jordan was thankful that the crew got there early enough before the fire got out of hand.
“Let me tell you, if it’s too big let the professionals come in. Get out, call 911,″ Jordan said.
Other storms last week in Terrell County caused damage to two homes, one of them being a home built in the 1800′s. No one was hurt.
State Farm said Georgia is second in the nation for the most lightning damage claims, causing more than $7 million in damage each year.
State Farm agent Karen Cohilas said August and September are the most active months for lightning strike claims.
“We are right in the middle of it. It’s not surprising to see lightning this time of year but it’s still devastating,” Cohilas said.
Jordan advises residents who are concerned that lighting has struck their homes to look for obvious signs.
“Obviously, the damage. You will damage the electrical panel then if you get a surge. Also a shockwave in the house. You’ll be able to see the lights flickering,″ Jordan said.
Jordan said lightning rods can work, but they are not 100% reliable. He also said homes will always be one of the best places to stay safe during a thunderstorm.
As for devices, Cohilas said If it’s an electronic device, it can be impacted by lightning.
She added that there is no way to protect devices once the lightning strikes, but before a storm rolls in, she advises residents to unplug devices of value.
Cohilas also said it is smart to get a professional to access nearby trees that could fall from wind or lightning.
“If you do have damage trees on your property or something as leaning towards your house, it’s always good to take care of that before it hits your homes because it’s a lot harder to repair your home than it is to remove a tree,” Cohilas said.
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