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Lightning sparks two different fires in West Mobile

(SOURCE: WPMI)

A deadly storm outbreak across the south has claimed the lives of five people.

Several parts of our area saw damage, flooding and hail as a direct result of the storm system.

At Longleaf Pines apartments on Girby Road, several residents are displaced because of a fire.

8 units were damaged after lightning struck the building.

"We heard a boom, bang, like a thunder or something like that and we smelled smoke," said Johnnie Gamble, one of many residents feeling thankful to be alive and unharmed.

"We saved the animals but we don't have anything no clothes or nothing. It took everything," said Gamble.

Mobile Fire-Rescue had their hands full Monday morning.

Around the same time as the apartment fire, firefighters were called to another fire on Dorchester Drive in the Inverness neighborhood of Mobile. Jim and Leann Tamblyn's house of more than 20 years went up in flames.

Firefighters say it too was hit by lightning.

"We heard the thunder and didn't pay much attention to it but then we got a call saying there was something on fire back here. The chimney was fully engulfed and then when he went inside Jim attempted to put the fire out with small fire extinguisher it didn't work," said neighbor Doug Cunningham.

Family and friends worked to salvage what they could.

"You always think lightning will wreck electronics you don't think it will burn your house to the ground," said Cunningham.

Experts said there are steps you can take to attempt to safeguard your home against lightning strikes.

"A way to protect from that is to install a system of lightning rods that are connected by a thick piece of copper that is bonded to ground rods in the earth. And it catches that strike and dissipates it," said the operations manager at Professional Electric, Al Mahan. He said lightning strikes in your yard or neighbor's yard can also cause damage.

"Such a large charge, it will enter the house on any connected wire system. So what you need to do is establish a surge protection envelope," said Mahan.

The homeowners on Dorchester Drive said this is actually the third time over the past 20 years that their home has been struck by lightning, although previous incidents were not severe.

A firefighter was injured there when a piece of sheet rock fell on top of him. He's ok and returned to work the same day.

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