Lighting strikes concern homeowners

It was a busy weekend for firefighters across the Heart of Carolina, lightning strikes are blamed for a rash of house fires and that has a lot of homeowners wondering if they should invest in lightning rods.

Like many of her neighbors, Sondra Haviland never gave much thought to lightning protection until a home just down the street from her was heavily damaged in a fire started firemen say by a lightning bolt.

"It was a little scary, because it happened late at night in the middle of the night and it was a huge lightning strike," Haviland said.

According to national statistics, North Carolina ranks second in the country for lightning strikes.

But you don't see lighting rods on many homes in newer urban neighborhoods.

Tandricka Patterson says her home is protected by lightning rods her father put up 30 some years ago.

"I've never had any lightning to strike the house so I guess real well," Patterson said.

Over the weekend, a Raleigh home erupted in flames after a lightning strike early Sunday morning.

Experts say in theory lightning rods ground the electrical current from a strike and eliminate the worst part of a direct hit.

Firefighters say there's no conclusive evidence that lightning rods will keep a home from being hit.

"They theory is sound, but there is no evidence that it actuality works," said Capt. Ron Lewis with Fayetteville Fire Department.

Brenda Lee says her mother's home hasn't been struck once in the 30 years since a traveling salesman came through selling lighting rods.

"This guy come through here we didn't know what it was all about you know but he said it a good idea to get them," Lee said.

An idea Haviland plans to buy into for some extra peace of mind.

Firefighters also warn that surge protectors you plug in for computers and HD TV, will not protect your equipment from a lighting strike. They are only good, firemen say for electrical line surges.

Their best advice is to unplug as much as you can. As for lightning rods, there are no guarantees' firemen say, but it can't hurt.

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