West St. Paul home devastated by fire sparked by lightning

West St. Paul home devastated by fire sparked by lightning

A homeowner in West St. Paul is left with smouldering remains after lightning sparked a fire that destroyed her home.

Louise Evaschesen was home Wednesday night when she said she heard a crack of thunder, then saw a flash of lightning that caused her to jump out of her chair.

Power in her home was knocked out by the storm, so Evaschesen said she figured she’d head to bed. That’s when she received a call from her neighbour who told her flames were coming out of the peak of her garage.

Evaschesen’s first thought was to get her car out of the garage for fear it would explode, but she couldn’t open the garage door due to the power outage.

After calling 911, Evaschesen told CTV News she got herself to safety outside and stood in the rain watching her home burn, hoping the moisture might slow the fire.

“There were about seven fire trucks here and they did just a super job: as much as they possibly could under the circumstances,” said Evaschesen.

“We watched until after three this morning and they were still fighting it when we left. They said there was nothing more we could do.”

West St. Paul’s fire chief confirmed the blaze was caused by lighting.

Evaschesen explained that she’s lived in the home since 1985 and that her late husband had poured care and attention into the property.

“Planted every tree, every blade of grass, every side walk block. He did it all,” she said.

Walking through what is left of her backyard, Evaschesen stressed that she’s grateful for the family that has rallied around her while she figures out how to rebuild.

“You just don’t ever think you’re going to be hit by lightning you know? But we were.”

The West St. Paul Fire Department estimated damage to the home to be roughly $500,000 and its contents at $200,000.

Within Winnipeg alone, the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service keeps track of fires it attends that are sparked by lighting.

Numbers provided to CTV News varied by year: in 2015 Winnipeg’s fire service responded to four fires sparked by lighting, two in 2016 and one in 2017.

To date for 2018, it has not responded to a fire sparked by lighting.

Published at Thu, 13 Sep 2018 19:20:42 -0400