Lightning blamed for blaze at Parkersburg house

PARKERSBURG – Lightning is responsible for the fire that destroyed a house at 34 Wyndemere Drive on Tuesday afternoon, officials said.

The National Weather Service in Charleston confirmed a lightning strike in the area shortly before the fire was reported, said Capt. Tim Flinn of the Parkersburg Fire Department.

Calls about a fire were reported to the 911 Center at 4:52 p.m. Tuesday, said Parkersburg Fire Department Chief Eric Taylor. The fire was declared under control at 6:19 p.m., Taylor said.

No one was injured in the fire, although the house was destroyed and collapsed in stages during the fire, Taylor said.

When firefighters arrived, heavy smoke could be seen from Murdoch Avenue, Taylor said. Flames were visible upon firefighters arrival, he said.

The fire began at the front peak of the house after lightning struck the structure, Taylor said.

John Migliore, owner of the home, said he was home alone when the fire began, Taylor said.

Migliore declined to make any comment about the fire on Tuesday afternoon.

Migliore told firefighters he heard loud thunder and suspected lightning had struck close by, Taylor said. He reported that his electricity was out, so he went to the basement to flip the breaker back on, Taylor said.

The alarm systems on the home were said to have “went crazy” when the power was restored, Taylor said. This was when Migliore realized the home was on fire, Taylor said.

The alarm company reported the fire, Taylor said.

Neighbors reported they had called 911 on their neighbor’s behalf.

The home was estimated at 6,000 square feet, Taylor said. The damage was estimated at $1 million Tuesday evening, Taylor said.

“The fire was well advanced by the time the fire department got here,” Taylor said.

The Vienna Volunteer Fire Department and the Williamstown Volunteer Fire Department responded to the scene to provide additional manpower and to assist in pumping water up the hill, Taylor said.

The Lubeck Volunteer Fire Department and Waverly Volunteer Fire Department responded to the Vienna fire station to provide additional coverage for the area during the blaze, bringing the total departments involved to five, officials said.

Although there were fire hydrants nearby, the firefighters had difficulty getting enough water to the top of the hill to properly fight the fire, Taylor said.

Firefighters reported having to link six hoses together for 1,000 feet to pump water up the approximately 100-foot vertical climb to fight the blaze, Taylor said.

Firefighters assisted Migliore in rescuing his vehicles from the garage of the home, including a vehicle described as an “antique Mustang,” as well as some pictures inside the home before it was engulfed, Taylor said.

Three firefighters hovered over the home in the ladder from the tower 1 engine, spraying water along the inside of the home as the roof collapsed inward over the course of two hours. Other engines pumped water and sprayed areas of the home, knocking in windows in an attempt to fight the fire.

The peak of the south side of the home collapsed outward, spilling bricks and burning shingles across the side yard. The front of the home collapsed outward first, knocked down by firefighters in order to access the blaze behind it easier.

Insulation from the home floated in gray chunks along the streets, away from the home.

Jeremy Johnson, 22, of Vienna witnessed the lightning strike that started the fire, he said.

“We were coming out of the mall and we saw the lightning strike the house up here on the hill. We saw it, and we heard the boom almost instantly, and then there were sirens,” Johnson said.

The initial reports said that two homes were on fire in the area, 34 and 39 Wyndemere Drive, Taylor said. The call about 39 Wyndemere turned out to be confusion about the address of the home that was on fire, he said.