Lightning Strike Damages Fort Smith Home

FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- Fort Smith homeowner Louetta Justice, who lives on Quebec Street off Hwy 271, said she had just returned home from taking her daughter to school.

She said before she left her home before 8:00am on Thursday (Apr. 4) she had heard thunder and lightning rolling through but didn't think much about it.

It was when she returned home that morning that she realized that the storm had caused a problem.

She said her garage door opener wasn't working and wouldn't open her garage.

Justice said she went inside of her home, replaced the batteries in the garage opener and opened the garage where she found the problem.

" I opened up this door and when I did all the smoke started flowing in here," Justice said. " There was a lot of smoke and it was really black."

Justice said she grabbed her small dog and didn't waste any time getting out of the house.

"She (the dog) was in the kitchen. I grabbed her and my pocketbook from the kitchen counter and ran out the front door and called 911."

The fire was quickly put out but left behind damage to a wall in her garage, damage to the electrical system in the garage and left soot on her husband's car.

Fort Smith fire crews said it was lightning that caused the fire and it had struck a tree in the home's front yard first.

With the ground being wet at the time and an underground sprinkler system, the lightning strike moved from the tree.

"When a lightning strike occurs when the ground is wet it is looking for a stopping point," said Travis Cooper with Sebastian County Emergency Management.

Which, unfortunately, turned out to be in Justice's garage in this case. But she said no one was injured and that is what is most important.

"I thank god for that. I really do. Because it could have been a lot worse," she said.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.