UPDATE: Lightning likely cause of morning house fire - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Lightning likely cause of morning house fire

Posted: Updated:
HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) - Memories in the form of photo albums and personal papers were scattered on a white sheet in the yard belonging to Rena McCommon.

Her home, now destroyed, smoldered nearby.

McCommon, 76, managed to make it out of her two-story home unscathed just after 3 a.m. Monday as flames engulfed the residence. When firefighters got to the scene, the house was three-quarters engulfed in flames.

Tri Community Volunteer firefighters suspect lightning struck the 2,330 square foot home on Quail Mountain Drive and set it ablaze.  They won't know the official cause until an investigation is complete.

McCommon phoned her daughter at 3:11 a.m.

"I can't breathe, the house is on fire," McCommon told her daughter Beth Redmon.

Her daughter was able to walk McCommon through how to exit over the phone. McCommon was able to escape unharmed.

"It's hard," said Redmon. "It's very hard to hear your momma crying and saying she doesn't know how to get out of the house. That tore me up."

Last night was the one night McCommon didn't have her breathing machine plugged in. Family members say if she had it plugged in, she likely would not have smelled the smoke and been able to escape.

The home is a total loss. Damages are estimated  around $300,000 to $350,000.  A vehicle in the garage was also ruined.

McCommon suffered minor smoke inhalation and was treated at the scene. A firefighter also suffered minor burns to the neck.

According to the National Weather Service, lightning starts about 4,400 house fires each year.

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