×

Lightning strike precedes Turners Falls house fire

  • Around 1:15 p.m. on Thursday, crews were called to a working structure fire at the home on 36 K St. The flames started in the attic. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Firefighters attack the fire from the interior of the house on K Street in Turners Falls on Thursday, July 5. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Firefighters hit the rear attic area of the house on K Street in Turners Falls on Thursday, July 5. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Around 1:15 p.m. on Thursday, crews were called to a working structure fire at the home on 36 K St., which started in the attic. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • A resident waits for the fire department on the front step of a burning house on K Street in Turners Falls on Thursday, July 5. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Residents leave the house as firefighters arrive at the house fire on K Street in Turners Falls on Thursday, July 5. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz



Recorder Staff
Thursday, July 05, 2018

MONTAGUE — Almost as soon as storms began to percolate in Franklin County Thursday afternoon, lightning struck a Turners Falls home that subsequently caught fire.

Around 1:15 p.m., firefighters from multiple towns were called to a working structure fire that started in the attic at 36 K St.

Both residents were out of the home before crews arrived, but one woman was transported to the hospital needing oxygen.

Turners Falls Fire Chief John Zellmann said the cause of the fire was under investigation.

Neighbors watching from their porches said they saw lightning strike the two-story home and were certain this was the cause of the fire.

“To see it, to hear it, to feel it, it was unbelievable,” said Charles Kelley, who said he watched the lightning strike the back upper portion of the home from the sidewalk. “A few minutes later, you could smell it.”

Kelley said he felt a shockwave as the lightning struck and that it was unlike anything he had ever experienced.

At least 30 firefighters were on the scene, and in the 85-degree heat, used hoses to knock down the flames in the back of the house.

Brian Jacobsen, a painter working nearby, said he saw the flames in the back of the house grow bigger and bigger, but that the fire was knocked down swiftly once water from fire hoses were deployed.

A large hole in the home’s roof let out billows of smoke, which poured into the surrounding neighborhood. Firefighters climbing the Turners Falls ladder truck into a blackened portion of the home wore air packs.

“There was so much smoke,” said Stephanie Ovak, who left her house a few doors down after it started filling with smoke.

Others, like local Tim Christopher, also noted the strong smell of smoke in the air and were relieved the fire did not spread to other homes in the neighborhood.

Crews from Turners Falls, Greenfield, Northfield, Bernardston, Erving, South Deerfield, Orange and Gill were called to the two-alarm fire.

In order to maneuver the towns’ emergency vehicles, K Street and a portion of 7th Street were closed for over an hour.

Around 2 p.m., the situation was under control, Zellmann said, and firefighters began removing hoses from the house. A short time later, the ladder from the Turners Falls fire engine was taken down.

Zellmann characterized the fire as “heavy,” and did not know the status of the woman brought to the hospital.

Thursday’s storms came as part of a week of extreme heat, and firefighters at the K Street scene set up portable fans and water stations in an attempt to stay cool.

As of Thursday afternoon, Franklin County is experiencing hazardous weather conditions and is under an extreme heat advisory until 8 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.

Reach David McLellan at dmclellan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 268.