Lightning sparks house fire in Avondale; mom saves 4 kids, dog

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by Catherine Holland

Video report by Tess Rafols

Posted on July 11, 2013 at 7:50 AM

Updated Friday, Jul 12 at 5:28 PM

Map: 99th Avenue & Buckeye

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AVONDALE, Ariz. -- An Avondale mother of four saved her family from a house fire sparked by a lightning strike Thursday morning.

Chopper 3 aerial video of the house at 99th Avenue and Buckeye Road showed a huge hole firefighters cut in the roof where the lightning hit.

It happened at about 3 a.m.

Single mom Santreesa Taylor said a loud boom woke her up, but it was a couple of hours before she realized there was a fire.

Thinking she was simply hearing thunder, Taylor jumped into action as soon as she realized what was happening.

"It was pieces of whatever burning up there falling down on the ground," she told 3TV's Tess Rafols. "I just ran inside and got all my babies and the dog out. We came and stood here, and waited for the fire department to come."

Crews from Avondale, Tolleson, Phoenix and Buckeye responded.

While Taylor and her family are safe, they lost quite a bit in the fire and do not have renter's insurance.

The damage appears relatively minor from outside, but inside, it's a different story.

 "He [a firefighter]  just told me everything's ruined," Taylor said. "We don't have anything."

Still, she's thankful her children were not hurt, especially considering the way the fire moved through the house to her 4-year-old twins' room.

"I didn't even realize that the fire had traveled from my room to their room. I thought it was just up there [in the attic space]," she explained. "If I wouldn't have got up in time, my babies would have been trapped in that room."

After going through the house, firefighters on the scene told Rafols that it looks likes many of the Taylor family's possessions can be salvaged.

"I don't know where to begin, where to start," Taylor said.

While the fire never descended past the ceiling, there is water damage to the home.

Taylor and her kids are staying with her sister until they can get back into their house.

Fires sparked by lightning strikes often are deceiving, smoldering quietly for hours before blowing up into something extremely dangerous.

According to the National Weather Association, lightning starts about 4,400 house fire each year.

"About 16 fire deaths are attributed to lightning-caused fires each year, most of which are the occupants of houses that ignited by lightning," reads the NWS lightning safety Web page.

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