Top: The Brad Ferree residence, 13709 S. C.R. 300 W., was the scene of a house fire caused by a lightning strike early Sunday morning.
Bottom: A direct lightning strike caused intense flames and smoke to shoot out of the air conditioning vents, damaging the wall area near the vents.
A direct lightning strike to a radio tower caused a rural Clay City house fire and killed a calf over the weekend.
Around 1:45 a.m. Sunday, members of the Lewis Township Volunteer Fire Department were dispatched to the home of Brad Ferree, located at 13709 S. C.R. 300 W.
The family told fire officials at the scene they heard the lightning strike, but were unaware of damage to the home until the smoke alarm went off and they discovered smoke and flames coming through air conditioning vents.
No one was injured in the fire that started in the basement.
Lightning struck a radio/satellite tower located next to the Ferree home, igniting the cables going into the home. The fire traveled along the cables attached to a 2-by-8 floor joist in the basement, disintegrating it, which allowed the fire to enter into the air conditioning vents of the home.
Members of Clay City Volunteer Fire Department and members of Green County volunteer fire departments out of Jasonville and Wright were called to assist.
"Basement fires are the worst for firefighters," Fire Chief Brian Husband said. "The only way for the heat and smoke of a fire to get out is the only way in for a firefighter. The reason we called for so much backup was because this was an incredibly hot fire. "
Within 40 minutes and after using approximately 300 gallons of water, firefighters put the fire out.
"This shows where training pays off," Husband said. "When we arrived, I didn't think we'd save the house."
The upstairs was slightly damaged by smoke but the family's personal items were saved. The status of the structural and wiring damage to the home has yet to be determined, but it doesn't look good, according to Husband.
"That floor joist just exploded. There's not much of it left," he said. "There's about $50,000 worth of damage done to the home. The insurance company will have to determine whether the home is repairable."
The lightning strike also traveled along the ground, killing a breeder calf standing in a farm lot about 50 to 60 yards away from the Ferree residence.