A fast-moving storm wreaked havoc on a home in south Wise County Monday afternoon when a lightning bolt set it on fire.
The house, located in Newark’s Chisholm Springs subdivision, took a direct hit on the rooftop as lightning bolts straight as silver swords shot from the sky.
Kristine Peterson was on her computer when the bolt blasted the house.
“My sister got shocked while she was on her laptop,” said Samantha Gandee. “The lightning went through the entire house. I could see it from the kitchen downstairs.”
Kristine and Samantha were at home with their sister Savannah when the storm struck. All three girls managed to escape without injury.
“We called our parents first, and then we started smelling smoke,” Samantha added. “We started getting all of our animals out of the house, but we didn’t have time to get anything else out.”
Kristine stood next to her in tears, watching the fire destroy the home located in the 100 block of Watering Hole. Her bedroom was enveloped by flames.
“Everything she had from her best friend who was killed was in that room,” Samantha said.
“All our girls had precious memories,” said their father, Sam Gandee. “You can replace a lot, but you can’t replace those.”
He was on his way home from work when lightning struck. His wife, Andrea, was still at work, but she rushed home as soon as she heard the news. She was standing in a neighbor’s yard, repeating a prayer as firefighters battled the fire in the nearly 100-degree heat.
The family rents the home and just moved in April 1. It appeared to be a total loss.
The fire was reported at 4:45 p.m. High winds spread it quickly, and within half an hour the entire rooftop was gone.
Located a couple of miles south of Rhome on U.S. 287, the subdivision is between Ramhorn Hill Road and the Wise/Tarrant county line. Flames flaring from the rooftop could be seen from the highway. Pitch-black smoke rising from the home was visible for miles in all directions.
Fire departments from Rhome, Newark, Boyd and Haslet responded as did Wise County EMS, Rhome police and Wise County sheriff’s deputies.
Neighbors poured from their homes to watch and take pictures with their smart phones of the volunteer firefighters battling the flames.
Marcos Gonzalez was in his home across the street when the storm hit.
“Lightning was all around us coming down,” he said. “It was very strong, very loud. I told my daughters to turn everything off and get downstairs. We were scared.”
It’s the second time in two years lightning struck the neighborhood.
On Sept. 1, 2010, lightning hit the roof of a home in the same subdivision just a block from the home destroyed on Watering Hole. The small cluster of streets, complete with western names like Saddlebag Court and Dodge City Trail, is located on a broad hilltop overlooking the rolling prairie.
Lightning continued to keep Wise County firefighters busy throughout Monday evening. Decatur firefighters responded to a pair of grass fires in the evening, possibly sparked by lightning, and Greenwood/Slidell firefighters assisted Sanger on a fire also probably caused by lightning.