Lightning strike destroys Ooltewah home - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Lightning strike destroys Ooltewah home

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OOLTEWAH, TN (WRCB) -- Friday night's thunderstorms did not produce the damage many feared, but caused scary moments for one homeowner in Ooltewah. Lighting struck a home, setting it ablaze while the family slept.

Lightning struck and started the fire around 2:30 a.m. Saturday in the Seven Lakes development in Ooltewah. The homeowner says he feared a tornado was hitting because it was so loud.

"She got up and screamed and she thought actually the tornado hit the house," homeowner Kumar Gopal said.

Kumar Gopal says the heavy storms and tornado warnings had he and his wife on edge all night and when a loud boom woke them, they figured they needed to find a safe place to hide in the house.

"It was a huge, very loud noise," Gopal said.

But, one little sound, made him realize lightning had struck and fire was taking over the home.

"The smoke alarm went off and I could hear beep, beep," Gopal said.

They needed to get out fast.

"The insulation was glowing. All I saw was glowing. All I wanted to do was get my wife out of there, so I screamed downstairs to get her to go out," Gopal said.

They escaped unharmed and watched as firefighters battled the blaze that was spreading quickly.

"Went upstairs to try and attack the fire but by that time it had broke through the roof," Highway 58 Volunteer Fire Dept. Captain Jack Horner said.

Crews from the Highway 58 and Tri-Community Volunteer Fire Departments had to attack from above as the storm raged on.

"We had to pull out and do a defensive attack. We were still encountering heavy lightning when we got on scene," Capt. Horner said.

They got it knocked out by 7 a.m. but it rekindled a few hours later and had to be put out again. The Gopals say it's a hard scene to watch. They moved here from Singapore and bought the brand new home only a year ago.

"The saddest thing is that we have a lot of things from Singapore, where we come from, and all those are gone," Gopal said.

Though that's irreplaceable, he says they're happy to have their lives and shoulders to lean on from their neighbors.

"I think the really touching part here is that I saw how close our neighbors were," Gopal said.

The home is likely a total loss. Gopal said he's in the process of contacting his insurance company. In the meantime, the Silver Lakes property manager is letting them stay in a model home this week.

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