Two Tallahassee House Fires Caused by Lightning [SLIDE SHOW]

By: Tallahassee Fire Department Release, Julie Montanaro Email
By: Tallahassee Fire Department Release, Julie Montanaro Email

UPDATED 9.18.2012 by Julie Montanaro

They say lightning never strikes twice. It did in Tallahassee last night.

Lightning strikes caused two fires that forced two families to run from their homes and into the rain.

"The thunder I've never heard that before in my life, everything just went ... lit up in my house," Carolyn Banks said.

Carolyn Banks and her mother went to see first lady Michelle Obama Monday night. Soon after she got home and went to bed, lightning struck just above the laundry room.

"Because it was in the ceiling, we couldn't see any flames or anything but we could smell the smoke you know, so once I knew it was burning, so then that's when we called the fire department, just got out," Johny Banks said.

"It was pouring down raining and stuff but thank God we all made it out safe," Carolyn Banks said.

The fire did 20-thousand dollars in damage. The Banks family spent the day Tuesday trying to clean up the smoky, soggy mess.

Across town, not 30 minutes later, Phil Young got the jolt of his life.

"It was like an explosion. The only thing I thought was maybe that tree, the big tree was hit," he said.

Young and his wife had to wake their young girls, ages four and seven, and get out as smoke filled their home in minutes.

Firefighters had to cut a vent in the roof and wound up tearing out the ceiling and all the insulation.

"This can all be replaced and fixed but my kids are safe, my wife is safe, so you know it's, were going to be okay," Young said.

Two lightning strikes, two fires, two families, same night.

Firefighters say they are far from alone.

"We responded to 75 structure fires in the last five years, that were a result of lightning," Tallahassee Fire Department Spokesman Mike Bellamy said.

The Youngs are planning to rent a home nearby until their house can be repaired.

The Banks had no insurance and will have to rely on family right now. The Red Cross is helping too.

UPDATED 9.18.2012 by Julie Montanaro

Lightning strikes caused fires at two Tallahassee homes Monday night.

Carolyn and Johnny Banks' are trying to salvage furniture, clothes and keepsakes from their home on Balkin Road.

Carolyn Banks said she and her mother attended the first lady's speech Monday night.

Soon after she got home, Carolyn Banks said, a bolt of lightning shook the entire house and there was a flash of red and blue light. She says her son smelled smoke and all three rushed to get outside.

The fire started in the laundry room. There is a hole in the roof right above it.

Damages are estimated at $20,000. Carolyn said the house was not insured and they will have to live with family until they can repair it.

Across town about 30 minutes later, the Young family had to flee its home on Celtic Road too.

Phil Young says he had just gone to bed and was watching a little Monday Night Football when the lightning bolt struck right above the master bedroom.

"It was like an explosion," he said.

Young and his wife had to wake their two young daughters, ages four and seven, and get out of the house.

The fire spread through the attic and filled the home with smoke within minutes, he said.

The family is trying to salvage some of its belongings from the soggy, smoky house and plans to rent a home while it is being repaired. Damages are estimated at $55,000.

LT Mike Bellamy says the Tallahassee Fire Department has responded to 75 fires started by lightning in the last five years. He says those lightning strike fires have done $1.5 million dollars in damage.
Tallahassee, FL - September 18, 2012

The American Red Cross Capital Area Chapter responded to a lightning strike last night that displaced a family on Balkin Road in Leon County.

The Fire Department called the chapter to assist the family. Red Cross provided hotel nights, food and clothing totaling $650.00. Red Cross caseworkers will follow up with the family to ensure that all their immediate needs are met.

“Without prompt Red Cross assistance, this family would be homeless and be another statistic” said Dan Samborn, CEO of the American Red Cross Capital Area Chapter.

“Our volunteers are on-call 24 hours a day to render life changing Red Cross assistance.”

People can send donations to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Consider making a donation today by visiting , calling 850-878-6080. Contributions may also be sent to your local Red Cross chapter, 1115 Easterwood Drive, Tallahassee, FL 32311. Contributions enable the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters.

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or join our blog at http:/


Tallahassee, FL - September 18, 2012

Last night, at 10:05 p.m., firefighters from the Tallahassee Fire Department Stations 3, 1 and 4 responded to the report of a mobile home fire in the 1600 Block of Balkin Road. The fire was reported when the occupants smelled smoke and evacuated the home. Fire crews were met with fire in the attic and through the roof upon arrival. Firefighters extinguished the blaze and began a lengthy overhaul of hidden fires in the attic. The Red Cross was called to assist the three adults who were displaced as a result of the fire. Damages were estimated at $20,000 and no injuries were reported at the scene. The fire was caused by a lightning strike.

At 10:32 p.m., units from the Tallahassee Fire Department Stations 12 and 6 responded to the report of smoke inside a single-story wood frame home in the 1900 Block of Celtic Road. Deputy Fire Chief Roberts was in the area at the time of the fire and first on scene reporting smoke showing. Firefighters quickly gained access to the attic and extinguished a small fire and began the lengthy task of removing charred insulation and salvaging property. The residents were displaced from the home and damages were estimated at $55,000. No injuries were reported at the scene and lightning was determined as the cause of the fire.

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