Lightning strike causes damage to garage at White Hills residence

Damage is estimated at $15,000 due to a garage fire at a Hubbell Lane residence in Shelton on Wednesday evening that is believed to have been caused by a lightning strike.

Shelton Fire Marshal James Tortora said it appears the fire at 41 Hubbell Lane started when a lightning bolt hit the electric fence system for pets on the property, with that charge then entering the garage through the system’s wiring.

‘Lightning charge went into that wire’

“We found evidence of lightning voltage running through it in parts,” Tortora said, pointing out the electric fence system wiring was broken in half or melted in certain spots. “There’s no doubt the lightning charge went into that wire,” he said.

Damage was done to at least one motor vehicle inside the garage as well as the garage doors, walls, contents such as tools and ladders, and the overall electrical system. There were two vehicles inside the garage, and a minivan close to the fire location was the most severely damaged. “The paint was blistered and melted in the front,” Tortora said.

There were no injuries to the occupants or firefighters.

About the location

Hubbell Lane is a dead-end road off Route 110, just west (toward Monroe) of Maple Avenue and the White Hills shopping center. The residence is a two-story wood-frame structure with a three-car garage.

Three fire companies responded

The 9-1-1 call came in from the homeowners at 8:25 p.m. on April 10, according to police. Tortora said the occupants were home at the time.

The occupants heard a lightning strike and the house shook, he said, and several minutes later they smelled smoke and realized their garage was on fire.

White Hills volunteer firefighters arrived on scene quickly due to the home’s proximity to the firehouse, according to Nick Verdicchio, a Shelton Fire Department spokesman.

Echo Hose and Huntington fire crews as well as EMS personnel also were sent to the house, with Pine Rock Park firefighters then providing citywide backup coverage, Verdicchio said.

Fire put out quickly

Tortora said firefighters encountered heavy smoke in the garage but were able to enter and quickly control and put out the blaze. The occupants had evacuated and were safely outside.

Fire officials estimated it took 15 to 20 minutes to completely extinguish the fire. Firefighters confined the fire to the garage with no significant damage to the living quarters, although there was some minor smoke damage.

The homeowners were able to sleep in their house overnight.

Through the garage wall

Tortora said it appears lightning struck the underground electrical fence wiring and traveled through a wall into the garage, where the wiring was connected to the home’s overall electric system at an outlet.

That outlet was located about two feet from the minivan that sustained the more significant damage, he said.

Verdicchio said the incident occurred during the brief storm Wednesday night. “There was a big roll of thunder and lightning,” he said.