A lightning strike is believed to have caused a house fire in Stearns County on Tuesday as severe storms moved through Minnesota.
The owner of the home at 19607 County Road 40 in Farming Township was in his garage when he heard a loud bang and saw a bright flash out of an opened overhead garage door, a Stearns County Sheriff's Office news release says. He could smell smoke and noticed some siding on his house was melted.
The Stearns County Sheriff's Office responded to the fire at 2:47 p.m. and fire personnel extinguished the fire.
The fire was contained to the roof and ceiling, and there was heavy smoke and ceiling damage inside the house, the release said. No one was injured.
Lightning strikes cause thousands of fires annually in the United States. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says from 2007-2011, fire departments in the United States responded to an average of 22,600 fires annually that were started by lightning.
In 2014 (the most recent data available), 3,900 house fires were started by lightning, which caused 39 civilian injuries and $408 million in property damage, NFPA said in a 2017 report on lightning strikes and house fires.