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Lightning blamed for two house fires Saturday

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BIGELOW — One home was heavily damaged and another had roof damage after taking direct hits from lightning strikes Saturday morning near Bigelow and Rushmore.

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The Bigelow Fire Department was dispatched at 8:19 a.m. Saturday to the Scott and Laurie Petersen acreage at 33887 King Ave. after a resident of the home reported the blaze. The female and her dog were able to get out of the home safely.

“We had smoke coming out of the eaves badly,” said Bigelow Fire Chief Steve Hohensee.

Crews had to cut a hole in the roof to get at the fire, at which time flames began working through the shingles on the south side of the house, he added.

“The house did sustain quite a bit of smoke and water damage,” Hohensee said. “The shell is still standing — the interior structure was pretty strong.”

Assisting the Bigelow Fire Department at the scene were the Rushmore, Sibley, Iowa, and Little Rock, Iowa fire departments, with nearly 40 firefighters responding. Hohensee said a neighboring farmer also brought over a four-wheel-drive tractor to help the fire trucks get into the yard. Heavy rains had made it difficult for the trucks to maneuver the driveway and yard.

“The weather was terrible,” Hohensee said, “There was a lot of lightning, high winds and terrible rain.”

Hohensee said the Petersen home “took a direct hit to the roof” by lightning, and it blew every appliance in the home.

With the dangerous storm continuing during the firefight, Hohensee said, “Lightning, you hope, never strikes twice in the same spot.”

There wasn’t much firefighters could do to protect themselves.

“We were very fortunate,” he said.

No sooner had Bigelow firefighters returned to the fire hall when they were requested to provide mutual aid to the Rushmore Fire Department for a reported house fire at 29410 Jones Ave. The initial call came in to the Rushmore department at 10:42 a.m. Saturday.

“There were a few little flames coming out of the top of the roof,” said Rushmore Fire Chief Brent Petersen of the scene when firefighters arrived. A small portion of the roof was damaged, and Petersen said crews were on the scene for about an hour.

Unlike the blaze near Bigelow, Petersen said firefighters didn’t have to battle the elements. It wasn’t storming where they were.

“It was raining all around us,” Petersen added.

There was someone at the home at the time of the fire, but Petersen said there were no injuries.

Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.

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Julie Buntjer
Julie Buntjer joined the Daily Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington and graduate of Worthington High School, then-Worthington Community College and South Dakota State University, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. At the Daily Globe, Julie covers the agricultural beat, as well as Nobles County government, watersheds, community news and feature stories. In her spare time, she enjoys needlework (cross-stitch and hardanger embroidery), reading, travel, fishing and spending time with family. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at www.farmbleat.areavoices.com.
(507) 376-7330
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