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Lightning strike believed to have sparked Alberta house fire

WATCH ABOVE: Mother Nature may be to blame for a devastating house fire. A home near Onoway went up in flames Tuesday night and it’s suspected a lightning strike started the blaze. Kendra Slugoski reports.

EDMONTON — An Onoway family lost their home and their belongings Tuesday night after a fire they believe was caused by lightning.

Leanne Morrill was at home when the fire started. The lightning strike happened around 8 p.m. She saw a spark from her TV and heard a loud crack.

“I jumped when I heard.”

When Morrill went outside it looked misty but she realized it was smoke coming from the roof.

She grabbed a garden hose and climbed up a ladder to try and put out the fire herself.

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“So I ran and turned on the hose and sprayed what I could but I couldn’t get high enough so I got the ladder. I went up on the roof and tried to spray. I could tell that the smoke was getting too black so I got down.”

Morrill also called family who then called 911.

Morrill was able to grab a few belongings out of the house before crews arrived. The family cat was found in the basement by a firefighter and was rescued.

“This was our home,” she said through tears.

In the light of day, the damage is evident: the charred skeleton of one side of the house is all that remains. The siding of parts of the home is melted away and most of the roof – which sustained most of the damage – is gone.

The home is considered a total loss. But, Morrill is just thankful her daughter and two young granddaughters weren’t home during the fire.

“My grand-babies weren’t in the house, I was here by myself and that’s what I’m most thankful for,” said Morrill.

Lac Ste. Anne County Fire Department says the preliminary investigation points to a lightning strike as the cause of this house fire. Kendra Slugoski, Global News
Lac Ste. Anne County Fire Department says the preliminary investigation points to a lightning strike as the cause of this house fire. Kendra Slugoski, Global News
Lac Ste. Anne County Fire Department says the preliminary investigation points to a lightning strike as the cause of this house fire. Kendra Slugoski, Global News
Tracey Crispin with the Lac Ste. Anne County Fire Services brings out the family cat during a house fire June 23, 2015. Courtesy: Lac Ste. Anne County Fire Services
Lac Ste. Anne County Fire Department says the preliminary investigation points to a lightning strike as the cause of this house fire. Kendra Slugoski, Global News

Lac St. Anne County Fire Services says the preliminary investigation points to a lightning strike being the cause.

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“Right now the damage is looking towards, we’re seeing severe arcing along the path of damage, so we’re determining, that’s where our probability is,” explained Fire Chief Randy Schroeder. “The eye witnesses statements come into play and we finalize with reports from Environment Canada to confirm that there was a lightning strike.”

He said lightning-caused fires are not something crews see very often.

“Not very common at all. It’s a very rare occurrence, very rare,” said Schroeder, “maybe five times in 20 years.”

The fire was under control Tuesday night, but one small fire reignited Wednesday morning which crews again responded to.

Environment Canada confirmed there was a cluster of lightning strikes in the area Tuesday night.

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