Lightning strikes suspected in fires

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Greenwood firefighters say a lightning strike is likely to blame for a fire that badly damaged a home during Wednesday's storms.

The home, in the 2700 block of Night Hawk Road, near Worthsville and Sheek Roads, was nearly destroyed.

But the homeowner survived, thanks to a neighbor who saw the flames and ran to help.

Neighbors captured the fire on camera. They say it went up in a matter of minutes during a monster storm.

"The whole top half of the house was engulfed in flames," said neighbor Frank O'Dell. "There was lightning, thunder, heavy downpour...wasn't a doubt in my mind it was lightning that hit."

Greenwood fire crews suspect that as the cause, as well.

"It’s most likely to be a lightning strike, but that’s still under investigation," said Greenwood Battalion Chief John Dean. "With storms like we have in Indiana this time of year, it’s unfortunately very common. The severe storm that came through tonight obviously had a lot of lightning with it."

Several neighbors on Night Hawk Road say they heard a boom, then saw the flames. Tim Napier's daughter, who lives behind the house, heard it too.

"When she screamed, I looked out the window and saw the fire and I knew I had to do what I can to help," Napier said.

He ran out in the pouring rain barefoot, but determined to save a life.

"There was a woman inside. I told her she had to get out because her house was on fire," Napier explained. "She kind of looked at me and I said, 'Now! We gotta go now!' So she kind of ran upstairs and I said, 'Now! Now!' so she followed me out and we got her out of the house."

Not long after that, she ran into the arms of her husband, who wasn't home during the fire and only learned afterward, about the neighbor who saved his wife.

They shared a hug and a handshake and an emotional thank you.

"Thankfully she got out okay and everybody's okay," Napier said.

There is significant damage from the fire. The second floor of the home is basically gone. The first floor is waterlogged.

Both neighbors' homes on either side had siding melt away from the heat of the flames. Greenwood Fire crews stopped it from getting any worse.

"We're thankful for that, but we're also praying for our neighbors," said Drew Ficociello, whose home had siding damage. "We're just thankful that we have such great neighbors that will do that for each other, run to help each other out."

Battalion Chief Dean says the homeowners whose house was destroyed are getting help with a place to stay, through insurance and the fire department.

This is not the first time lightning has caused damage in this neighborhood. Neighbors say a lightning strike destroyed another home down the street just last year.

Indianapolis Fire Department crews fought a two-alarm fire at an apartment building on the south side. It happened on Fox Harbour Lane off I-465 near I-65. No injuries were reported but some units were damaged.

Fire crews in Westfield also responded to reports of several fires sparked by lightning. Two of the fires, at a home on E. 151st Street and another on Joliet Road, caused minor damage.

A third home, in the 15000 block of Shining Spring Drive, sustained about $50,000 worth of damage. Firefighters say lightning compromised steel tubing used for the natural gas line. The fire was quickly brought under control by firefighters, who were assisted by crews from Carmel and Noblesville.