Fire Marshal Urges Safety During Storm Season
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak said residents of the state should take precautions and be aware of the risks when it comes to lightning.
McPeak's office said National Weather Service figures indicate lightning causes about 4,400 home structure fires annually as well as 12 fire-related deaths and $1 billion in damages.
Lightning may strike as far as 10 miles from rainfall, meaning many lightning deaths happen before storms or after they appear to have passed.
Outside, stay out of water, seek shelter and if someone is struck by lightning, call 911 immediately. Indoors, unplug appliances and other electrical items and turn off air conditioners, or turn off anything you're unable to unplug. Stay off corded phones, computers and other equipment that puts you in contact with electricity or plumbing.
Lightning was blamed for sparking a massive fire that destroyed a three-story home in Williamson County on April 4 as a storm system moved through the area. A passerby saw the roof on fire and had to climb a fence to get the house and wake up one woman who was inside. Smoke could be seen from miles away nearly an hour after the fire broke out.
Officials in Maury County said lightning also started a fire at a home in Columbia on Monday. Firefighters were able to contain the blaze to the kitchen.
(NewsChannel 5 and The Associated Press.)