2012-01-26 / Front Page

Lightning strike may have caused fire that destroyed Rayle home Saturday


Lightning is suspected in the Saturday afternoon fire that destroyed this home near Rayle. Lightning is suspected in the Saturday afternoon fire that destroyed this home near Rayle. Firefighters responded to reports of a fire just beyond Rayle Saturday afternoon during a heavy thunderstorm, but were unable to save the home, which was unoccupied at the time.

An investigator from the state fire marshal’s office was expected this week to determine the cause of the fire, but Rayle Volunteer Fire Department Chief Brent Sherrer said that he suspects that the fire was caused by lightning during the heavy thunderstorm. “There is nobody living there, no electricity on, and the fire seemed to start in the attic, so we suspect it was lightning,” he said. “The investigation will tell us for sure.”

The fire apparently got a head start before it was reported, he said. “We ran into heavy smoke halfway from the fire station, pushed down by the heavy rain, and it was pretty hairy when we first got there,” he said. The house was well involved in fire, and firefighters initially started an interior attack to stop the fire, but the roof became unstable and firefighters were forced to back out and fight the fire from outside the structure.

The homeowner does not live there, Sherrer said, and the home was unoccupied at the time of the fire. The home, owned by the widow of the late Dr. Ernest Stitch, is on the Athens Highway just west of Post Oak Farms, some two miles from Rayle.

Responding to the fire were Rayle VFD’s engine and tanker manned by 10 firefighters, plus Washington’s Engine 5 and Tanker 5, plus tankers and manpower from the volunteer fire departments at Jackson’s Crossroads, Tyrone, and Tignall.

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