Friendswood house struck by lightning while family wasn't home, officials say

FRIENDSWOOD, Texas (KTRK) -- Storms were passing through the area when neighbors in Friendswood's West Ranch subdivision say they saw intense lightning.

"I heard a big loud crack, like it sounded like it was right outside my front door. I didn't think much of it. When I went upstairs, I was doing my own thing and about 10 minutes later, I heard smoke alarms going off," said neighbor Ryan Grafelman.

"The 911 caller said they heard the lightning and they heard the shutter, and felt the vibration and they looked out a few minutes after that and saw the house with smoke coming out of it," Battalion Chief Marc Faber with Friendswood Volunteer Fire Department said.

Neighbors worried the family was inside, but say they learned they were all at the hospital with their newborn baby.

"It was a big relief because people knew the wife was pregnant for some time and they had a four year old daughter and knowing nobody was in the house was very, very good," Grafelman said.

Firefighters believe a lightning strike caused the fierce flames and it's not the first this weekend.

Investigators believe lightning also caused an apartment fire in the Cypress area, where 24 units were damaged, as well as a house fire in Montrose.

While the family wasn't home during the Friendswood fire, their dog was. Firefighters say it was rescued safely when the initial first responders arrived on scene.
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