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Home destroyed after reportedly being hit by lightning near Devon in Parkland County

Click to play video 'Parkland County home destroyed by fire after lightning strike' Parkland County home destroyed by fire after lightning strike
WATCH ABOVE: About 40 firefighters were called to a house fire in Parkland County near Devon on Sunday night, that may have been caused by a lightning strike. As Julia Wong explains, the family says they're grateful no one was home at the time and plans to rebuild – Jul 20, 2020

A family home on a Parkland County acreage southwest of Edmonton was destroyed in a million-dollar fire on Sunday evening, after it was reportedly struck by lightning during a powerful thunderstorm.

It happened just off of Range Road 271 north of Township Road 511, in the Graminia Country Estates subdivision near Graminia School.

Parkland County chief fire marshal Sean Cunningham told Global News 40 firefighters from Acheson, Devon and Parkland Village were called around 8:26 p.m.

“First crews arrived and the house was fully involved,” Cunningham said.

The family of five were all out of the home when the fire started.

Andrew Boitchenko, his wife Tatiana Boitchenko and their three kids were all in different areas when they heard the news.

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“I think it was the will of God that we were out of the house,” Andrew said. “We are happy that our family is together and our kids are okay. That’s the most important.”

The couple’s youngest son Nathan was the last to leave the home.

“It’s a miracle,” Nathan told Global News. “I probably would have been home alone with my headset on playing video games.”

Instead, he accepted a last minute invitation to a friend’s home. He said less than two minutes after arriving he got a call from his dad to head home to check on their property.

When he arrived the fire was well underway. He went inside and grabbed a photo of his grandfather from the Second World War, before he was forced out.

Tatiana’s cousin, Ellen Trofimov, lives down the road from them. She told Global News a storm moved in quickly. They saw an “extremely strong” lightning strike and she knew it was somewhere near.

Read more: Crews respond to fire at farm in Parkland County; no injuries reported

Trofimov said shortly after, she received a call from her cousin’s daughter asking her to check to see if there was smoke coming from the home.

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“Someone called them and said their house might be on fire,” Trofimov said.

“There was a lot of smoke coming from the roof and you could see the fire coming from the broken windows,” she said.

“It was slowly growing and moving through the rest of the house.”

A home in Parkland County near Edmonton caught fire Sunday night after a reported lightning strike during a fierce thunderstorm.
A home in Parkland County near Edmonton caught fire Sunday night after a reported lightning strike during a fierce thunderstorm. Karen Bartko/Global News

When she got to the home, neighbours were working to remove some of the family’s belongings.

“They were getting cars out of the driveway, the garage, they’re getting the boat out,” the woman explained. “It was actually a really nice thing”

Read more: Grapefruit-sized hail hammered Spruce Grove as thunderstorm swept across Edmonton region Friday

One of those neighbours was Octavio Gil, who said he saw the home struck by lightning before the blaze broke out.

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“We were taking pictures of the storm and then the lightning came down,” Octavio Gil said.

“There it was. Boom.”

The family would like to thank their neighbours, who stepped in to help.

“It was humbling to see all of those guys out here,” said Andrew.

“All of the neighbours were just like a big team.”

Andrew was one of the original developers of the subdivision and calls it a “family-like neighbourhood.”

He also thanked firefighters who responded to the blaze.

A total of 40 Parkland County firefighters from three stations — Acheson, Devon and Parkland Village — fought the flames, according to Cunningham.

About 40 firefighters were called to a house fire in Parkland County Sunday, July 19, 2020 — in the area of Range Road 271 north of Township Road 511 in Graminia Country Estates.
About 40 firefighters were called to a house fire in Parkland County Sunday, July 19, 2020 — in the area of Range Road 271 north of Township Road 511 in Graminia Country Estates. Karen Bartko, Global News

Water had to be trucked in to the acreage from Devon, which is about 10 minutes away from where the fire happened. Firefighters finished putting out hot spots early Monday morning.

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“All I can tell you is so far the fire is under investigation. We are working on tracking down some information and talking to neighbours,” Cunningham said, adding the call came in right after a fierce thunderstorm.

Read more: Trees toppled, buildings damaged south of Edmonton as severe weather tears through Alberta

Cunningham said the fire appears to have started at the back of the home and does not appear to be suspicious.

The home will be a total loss, and caused an estimated $1 million worth of damage.

“I was actually in disbelief,” said Trofimov. “I was sure the firemen were going to put out the fire and they were going to sleep here tonight.

“Now they have no house.”

No injuries were reported to the family or fire crews, however the homeowner’s son said his father had to bring one of the family’s dogs to the vet to be treated for burns and smoke inhalation.

The family said the dog went back into the house, not realizing all the humans had already made it out safely.

“She just went from room to room to room looking for us,” Andrew said.

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She later died. Another dog survived and did not appear to suffer any injuries.

Although it’s early, the family is already looking to rebuild in the community.

“This is our home,” the father said. “We are definitely going to stay here and hopefully rebuild our lives and move on.”

About 40 firefighters were called to a house fire in Parkland County Sunday, July 19, 2020 -- in the area of Range Road 271 north of Township Road 511 in Graminia Country Estates.
About 40 firefighters were called to a house fire in Parkland County Sunday, July 19, 2020 -- in the area of Range Road 271 north of Township Road 511 in Graminia Country Estates. Julia Wong, Global News
About 40 firefighters were called to a house fire in Parkland County Sunday, July 19, 2020 -- in the area of Range Road 271 north of Township Road 511 in Graminia Country Estates.
About 40 firefighters were called to a house fire in Parkland County Sunday, July 19, 2020 -- in the area of Range Road 271 north of Township Road 511 in Graminia Country Estates. Julia Wong, Global News
About 40 firefighters were called to a house fire in Parkland County Sunday, July 19, 2020 -- in the area of Range Road 271 north of Township Road 511 in Graminia Country Estates.
About 40 firefighters were called to a house fire in Parkland County Sunday, July 19, 2020 -- in the area of Range Road 271 north of Township Road 511 in Graminia Country Estates. Karen Bartko, Global News
About 40 firefighters were called to a house fire in Parkland County Sunday, July 19, 2020 -- in the area of Range Road 271 north of Township Road 511 in Graminia Country Estates.
About 40 firefighters were called to a house fire in Parkland County Sunday, July 19, 2020 -- in the area of Range Road 271 north of Township Road 511 in Graminia Country Estates. Karen Bartko, Global News

— With files from Karen Bartko, Global News

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