A bolt of lightning set the basement of a West Peabody home ablaze Wednesday afternoon, amid a band of thunderstorms passing through the area. But thanks to an off-duty Chelsea firefighter who lives across the street, the fire was under control when Peabody engines arrived.
A one-alarm fire was initially reported just before 1:30 p.m. at 15 Roosevelt Ave. Fire Capt. Dale Kimball said the homeowner was inside at the time, but no one was injured.
Kimball said three engines and one ladder truck responded to the scene to find the off-duty firefighter dousing the flames with a garden hose.
Peabody crews then knocked down the rest of the fire within 10 minutes, Kimball said, and spent several minutes checking for any extension of the flames.
Kimball said the bolt of lightning apparently entered the home through a basement window, sparking a fire on the exterior of the home. Flames ignited inside, however, partly due to carboard and paper products in the basement.
The direct damage from the fire was mainly in the lower part of the home, but smoke did fill the house, however, causing widespread damage. Kimball and Building Commissioner Kevin Goggin, who also responded to the scene, estimated there were at least $50,000 in damages.
Goggin said the family would likely be displaced for at least a few months while repairs could be made.
Goggin was actually nearby when the call came in, inspecting the ongoing construction project at the and experiencing another effect of the sudden thunderstorms -- flash flooding. He said the school is in a low-lying area and the water just came in pouring in for a while during the worst of the storm.
It was unclear what the extent of the damage there was.