A probable lightning strike led to a small fire in a Tullahoma home but fire officials say the situation was a best-case-scenario for everyone involved.
According to Tullahoma Fire Chief Richard Shasteen, the call came in around 1:25 p.m., while the department was answering down tree calls after severe storms moved through the area.
Shasteen said a neighbor reported the roof of 115 Quail Drive was on fire in the Hunters Ridge neighborhood.
Fire crews were originally told no one was home, but firemen double checked for any occupants when they arrived.
After breaching the door, fire crews encountered two young adults in the home and evacuated them to safety.
“They didn’t even know their house was on fire,” Shasteen said.
Crews deployed a hand line through the home and immediately began containing the blaze, which was located in the attic space.
“They were able to put water directly on it and put the fire out relatively quickly,” Shasteen said.
The home suffered minimal damage, including minor water damage from fire suppression techniques. The crew also worked to salvage as much of the home as possible and prevent as much damage as possible, Shasteen added.
The only injury sustained during the call was a minor injury to a firefighter, who stepped through the floor of the attic while fighting the flames, Shasteen said. He was taken to Tennova Healthcare – Harton for treatment and released the same day.
Shasteen said the likely cause of the blaze was a lightning strike in the area moments before the fire was reported. Multiple neighbors confirmed they heard loud thunder or saw the lightning in the area, he said.
“We feel like it was a direct strike from a lightning bolt,” he said.
According to Shasteen, early notification of the incident was a tremendous help for fire crews. Because the incident happened during the day, people were able to keep an eye out and let crews know there was a fire in the area.
“If it had been at night and nobody had taken the time to go out and check their homes, this could have been a completely different scenario,” Shasteen said. “We’re just thankful it was during the day and somebody was paying attention.”
Shasteen heralded Lt. Clint Teters, who was the incident commander, pump operator Paul McKown and firefighters Tim Pitts and Colton McCormick, as well as Dwight Stephens who also assisted in the call.
He also encouraged the community to be aware of their surroundings during any kind of emergency, particularly where attics are concerned.
“Remember that in most [homes] there aren’t smoke detectors in your attic space,” he said. “Just because you don’t smell smoke doesn’t mean there’s not a fire somewhere. If you see something, say something. Call us. We’ll check around for free. It doesn’t cost you anything to have us come out and check.”
Erin McCullough may be reached at email@example.com.