Lightning believed to have caused a fire in NE Minnesota

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Lightning is believed to have caused a fire in northeastern Minnesota Wednesday night.

The fire started around 10:32 p.m. at a home on Johnson Road in Balkan Township, about 5 miles north of Chisholm, according to an email news release from the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office.

Officials say severe weather passed through the area at the time, and it is suspected the fire was caused by a lightning strike.

No one was home at the time of the blaze, with officials saying a passerby noticed the fire and called 911.

The house sustained "severe damage," according to the release.

Lightning and house fires

An average of 22,600 fires were started by lightning every year from 2007-2011, the National Fire Protection Association says. The majority of those fires happened outdoors, affecting outdoor vegetation, while 19 percent of the fires involved a home.

The National Weather Service says most lightning starts about 4,400 house fires every year, causing an estimated $283 million in damages.

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