Bolt of lightning starts fire in Farmington Hills home

A bolt of lightning started a fire inside a family's home in Farmington Hills Wednesday.

If there was any question of the power of Mother Nature for the Olivi family, those questions have been answered. Both Dan Olivi and his wife saw it on display.

"She saw the lightning bolt from Nine Mile," he said. "I heard it from Victor Parkway where I work and never would have thought it was my house it was affecting."

But just how it was affecting it wasn't clear at first.

"She said the garage door didn't work, we just thought it was a power outage," Olivi said. "Turns out there was smoke,  smelled smoke inside called fire department, she let us know our mantle was on fire."

The mantle on fire after lightning hit a tree roughly 10 to 15 feet away in the backyard. The fire department was already on its way, a neighbor saw the strike and called 911.

"This is about the fifth one I've seen in 28 years," said Battalion Chief Steve Biebel, Farmington Hills. "It probably followed the root of the tree with all the water pooling there."

The bark splintered rocks and soil blasted away as if someone grabbed the tree by the roots and pulled up with all their might.

Firefighters say the bolt traveled through the wire, melting an electric socket shooting out onto the wood mantel.
"The best thing to do is get out of the house, call 911," said Biebel. "Contact the fire department, make sure you get out of the house, and that everyone is safe."

That's exactly what happened in this case. Luckily no one was home, no one was hurt and the damage all considered, is relatively minor.
They will be without power at least for the night while DTE Energy works to get things restored.

The battalion chief said the neighbor who saw the lightning and called 911 really saved the day with the fire department at the scene in minutes.