A lightning bolt struck the roof of a Fairfax Station home Friday night, causing an estimated $1 million in property damages.
More than 60 firefighters from Fairfax County and Prince William County responded at 9:55 p.m., to the blaze at 7705 Kelly Ann Court. Despite a light rain amid the evening's heat lightning, the two-alarm fire took more than two hours to extinguish.
"The good news is that the homeowners escaped safely," said Lt. Daniel Schmidt, a Fairfax County Fire and Rescue spokesperson. "They realized the smoke was coming into the house from the fire that was spreading rapidly on the roof."
The two-story brick home, which was roughly 5,600 square feet in size, was destroyed in the fire.
Three adult residents were displaced by the fire. According to Fairfax County property tax records, the home was owned by Hari and Nirmala Kharbanda.
None of the residents or firefighters were killed or injured.
FIRES CAUSED by lightning strikes are not uncommon in Northern Virginia, though most fires in Fairfax County are caused by electrical wiring, improper disposal of cigarettes or having combustible material too close to heat or flames, Schmidt said.
Of the 169 accidental fires last year in the county, only two were caused by lightning.
At least two recent fires in Fairfax County were caused by lightning. On July 13, a lightning strike burned down a house in the Alexandria section of the county, causing $250,000 in damages and displacing a family of four. A month earlier, a nearby townhouse was destroyed after a lightning bolt ignited the roof, causing $250,000 in damages and displacing two adults.
"It's unfortunate, but it's just one of those things that can happen," Schmidt said. "There's not much you can do to prevent it."
From 1994 to 1998, lightning strikes caused fires at an average of 6,170 homes each year, tallying up nearly $144 million in damages, according to statistics compiled by the National Fire Protection Association.