Lightning sparks several house fires

Lightning strikes South Austin home (Julie Karam/KXAN)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In South Austin, lightning hit a house and an apartment complex overnight. That sparked two separate fires, and there have been seven confirmed lightning strikes throughout the city.

A family managed to get out of their house after lightning struck around 2 a.m. Thursday in the 5200 block of Austral Loop. A loud crack woke up the entire family in the Southwest Austin home, where a lightning bolt sparked a fire in the attic. When the family heard the noise, they checked the house and found that most of their breakers had been tripped. They were about to go back to bed when their smoke alarms started sounding.

“The fire alarm, obviously, was a huge help. We had nine alarms going off, so that really gets your attention,” said Geoff Moore, who was inside the home when it happened. “Obviously, we couldn’t see the fire. We couldn’t smell the smoke downstairs.”

When fire crews got there just before 4 a.m., they saw fire showing through the roof. Two adults, their four children and two dogs got out safely, and they are now getting help from their neighbors until their house is back in order.

Meanwhile, firefighters worked an apartment fire around 3 a.m. in the 800 block of West Slaughter Lane at Palace Parkway, near South First Street. People living in the apartments called 911 to report smoke filling their apartments. Firefighters first tracked smoke to the attic, where they then found an active fire. They say it appears lightning struck the roof, and people in two units had to find other places to stay.

Slaughter Lane lightning fire (Frank Martinez/KXAN)
Slaughter Lane lightning fire (Frank Martinez/KXAN)

“Tonight has been extraordinarily busy. With the thunderstorms rolling through Austin, there was a lot of lightning. We had multiple structure fires throughout the city, which really taxed our resources, but we were able to come through and get the job done,” said AFD Capt. David Hiebert.

These fires are two of seven confirmed lightning-sparked fires throughout the city. Lightning accompanied the storms that rolled through the area, keeping firefighters busy overnight.

Other lightning fires

  • 7100 block of Scenic Brook Drive: Contained to the attic due to the lightning strike
  • 1100 block of Blair Way: Contained to the attic due to the lightning strike
  • 7900 block of Valburn Drive
  • 1000 block of North Weston Lane
  • 7400 block of Albert Lane

Crews have also battled eight fires, responded to four calls for water rescues and helped in flooding on six separate instances. Austin-Travis County EMS said rescue efforts are happening on the ground, in the water and in the air as crews search for a missing Travis County sheriff’s deputy who was swept away in the floods while checking low water crossings.



Meanwhile, thousands are without power this morning, left in the dark thanks to the storms.

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