Family escapes home after lightning strike

by: Amy Napier Viteri Updated:

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GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - A Gwinnett County family made it out of their burning home safely, after a lightning strike sparked a fire on Wednesday night.

 Homeowner George Yu told Channel 2's Amy Napier Viteri he was putting his children, a 3-year-old and 3-month-old, to bed when the lightning hit their house on Lake Lucerne Drive in Lilburn.

 "We heard and saw it through the window. It was lightning. Strong, big red amber color," Yu said. "It just spread real quick."

 Yu said he ran downstairs with the children before his wife smelled smoke and realized their split level home was on fire. He tried to use a fire extinguisher to put out the flames and when that didn't work, he tried to use a hose before he was overcome with smoke.  Seven people inside the house got out safely before firefighters arrived.

 Gwinnett County Fire Captain Tommy Rutledge said lightning fires are a challenge for his crews this time of year.  

 "Lightning packs a tremendous amount of energy and those fires are often difficult to extinguish, even for firefighters," Rutledge told Viteri.

Severe Weather Team 2 meteorologist Karen Minton said more thunderstorms could develop on Thursday afternoon, with individual storm cells delivering heavy rain and strong winds. Similar weather is expected on Friday before a front moves in, and humdity and temperature levels drop, Minton said.

 Fire officials said because there are so many weather-related fires this time of year it's important for homeowners to be vigilant during severe weather and heavy lightning.