O’FALLON, MO (KPLR)– A wild night Tuesday night in and around O`Fallon, Missouri as firefighters responded to six calls for buildings hit by lightning, all in just one hour.
When they got a 9-1-1 call at 7:58, they responded to a house hit by lightning in the Villages at Dardenne subdivision. But it turned out not to have been damaged.
Then, just as firefighters were about to leave, Betty Colombo, who lives in the duplex across the street noticed smoke coming from the other half of her the building.
And while the cause of the fire is still officially undetermined, Colombo says she definitely felt a lightning strike.
“It was big, a white light covered the whole room and the whole house shook,” she said. And she`s not the only one who felt the wrath of the storm.
“Six seems like a lot in an hour,” said Scott Avery, Public Information officer for the O`Fallon Fire Department. “I guess we had the wrong part of the storm over O`Fallon.”
It took nine hours and 45 firefighters from O`Fallon and several neighboring communities to put out the fire.
It was difficult getting to all the hotspots because the floor had collapsed into the basement.
Two firefighters were taken to the hospital, one overcome by heat, the other hit in the head by falling debris.
Neither had to be hospitalized.
Firefighters credit a fire wall with keeping flames from spreading into Colombo`s half of the building. Her unit has only smoke and water damage and some minor damage to the garage and laundry room.
The question for Colombo is, now what?
“They are going to have to tear that side down. It`s no good so I don`t know how you tear down something that is attached to something else without destroying something over here,” she said.
Fortunately, the couple who lives in the half of the duplex destroyed by fire was not home when it started. Unfortunately they were on a cruise in the Hawaiian islands, but were reportedly heading home on Wednesday. Neighbors say they are in the 70s.
For the time being, Betty Colombo will live with her son.
“‘I consider myself lucky, if you call this lucky.”