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Lightning strikes suspected in multiple house fires

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Fire crews in several Minnesota communities battled house fires suspected of being sparked by lightning strikes in the latest wave of thunderstorms that rolled through the metro area.

KSTP reported that three houses on the 17000 block of Foliage Avenue in south metro community of Lakeville caught fire, with two of the houses located across the street from each other. The station said that the third house that was ablaze is about six houses up the street, on the same block.

FOX9 said that officials think lightning struck a tree, lighting a gas line and igniting the flames. Homeowner Curt Parish told the station that lightning hit his 1-year-old daughter's bedroom and sparked the blaze.

"Happy to see my house still standing even though it's got a little charring, but it's still there, we can rebuild that," Parish said. "It could have been a heck of a lot worse, my 1-year-old daughter was in that room so it could have been way worse."

WCCO reports that the fires have been extinguished, but the homes suffered extensive damage. The station added that while the occupants of all three of the homes made it out safely, fire officials said that as many as eight people have been displaced from the trio of homes because of the fires. Neighbors living in the area are being told to remain in their homes.

The gas meters were on fire at all three houses. Firefighters are monitoring the gas levels in the area to determine whether the area needs to be evacuated. Xcel Energy crews are reportedly en route to the area to shut off the gas.

In St. Paul, at least two homes were hit by lightning, one of which is a residential sober house, the Pioneer Press reports.

In addition, a fire also broke out at a townhouse complex on the 1500 block of Liberty Circle in Shakopee shortly after 10:30 Wednesday night. KSTP reported that the two residents who were home at the time escaped unharmed. That blaze reportedly started in the garage and then spread to the main unit; the adjacent units also suffered smoke and fire damage as well. The main unit is a total loss.

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