By Jake Old
A lightning strike may have caused a Thursday night house fire just outside the city limits of Mt. Juliet, and severe weather conditions challenged firefighters in putting it out.
According to Wilson County Emergency Management Agency director Joey Cooper, a caller reported a fire at 808 Harrisburg Lane after lightning apparently struck the house. A follow-up call said everyone was out of the house, but one person had gone back in with a fire extinguisher.
WEMA firefighters responded shortly after 11 p.m., and when they arrived, everyone was safe and out of the home, along with their pets. No injuries were reported.
Flames extended through the roof as crews arrived to the large two-story brick house. It was about 75 percent involved in flames when firefighters started their attack. Firefighters started with a defensive effort to protect exposures next to the home.
Operations continued, although an ongoing severe storm with continuous wind gusts and lighting in the area, as well as unstable structural walls in the home, made conditions difficult for firefighters, Cooper said.
“It [took] longer than normal due to the circumstances of wind, unstable walls and roof contents falling in on top of the floor,” Cooper said. “Our personnel [used] caution during the overhaul phase while extinguishing any hot spots. Our No. 1 concern is safety of our personnel since all occupants made it out safely.”
Crews worked into Friday morning and had to dig through the rubble to find hot spots to extinguish. They were able to recover some items for the family.
Wilson County sheriff’s deputies also responded to help. The Fire Department of Mt. Juliet posted on its Facebook page it had received many calls about the fire, but because it was outside its jurisdiction, firefighters there only respond when WEMA officials request assistance, which did not happen during the incident.
“As far as Mt Juliet, their assistance was not needed,” Cooper said. “We had people, we had engines, we had water. We were fighting the elements more than anything. Naturally people would ask them about the fire since most people don’t know the difference between the departments.”