Lighting is suspected in causing a St. Michael house fire early Monday, July 13 after summer storms roared through the area beginning around 10 p.m. Sunday, July 12 and continuing through the night.
St. Michael Fire and Rescue was called to the 400 block of Cottonwood Avenue Northwest around 3:30 a.m. Sunday, according to Fire Chief Steve Hosch. Upon arrival, firefighters found the fire burning through the attic and roof of the home, with flames shooting up above the area between a garage roof and an entryway.
Firefighters were able to work their way on to the top of the home and knock down the blaze, which had burned through the attic.
“It looks like it probably smoldered and worked its way through there for a while before it came out the roof,” Hosch said. “Lighting would be the suspect, yes, in a situation like this.” Fire damage was limited to the roof and attic he said, with the structure itself suffering water and smoke damage after firefighters did their job.
No one was home at the time of the blaze. According to a family member, the homeowners were on vacation in Kansas City with their grandchildren. Pets living in the home were at a local kennel, she said. The fire was called in by a neighbor down the street who saw the glow coming from the top of the house.
Albertville Fire and the Wright County Sheriff’s Office also assisted at the scene.
According to witnesses in the neighborhood, the lightning strike also burned out cable boxes and blew circuits around the area. Hosch said that’s “very likely” if the electricity from the strike worked its way into and through buried cable in the area.
The lightning came from a severe storm front that worked its way down Interstate 94. It spawned tornadoes in the Alexandria area, and there were reports of hail as close as Monticello.
Homeowners in northern Wright County reported some power outages, loss of trees and downed tree limbs and some property damage (several trampolines were flipped or tossed out into the street by straight-line winds, according to social media) after the storms rolled in around 10 p.m. and moved across the county, finally rolling out around 1 a.m. Monday.
Statewide, storms caused a variety of damage, dropping trees on cabins, blowing out docks and boats and even twisting the steel bleachers at Brainerd International Speedway into a mangled mess.
The National Weather Service warned area residents of a high probability of storms early Sunday, with a focus on the 94 corridor. NWS is predicting hot, humid weather to stick around much of the week, with a possibility of more thunderstorms coming through Minnesota and Wright County Monday, Tuesday and Thursday this week.