Lightning strikes that led to at least three home fires, small hail and flooded streets were reported Wednesday as early-afternoon thunderstorms swept through the Lowcountry.
Officials said lightning was thought to be the cause of a smoldering blaze inside a master bedroom wall of a Headquarters Island home on Johns Island. There, Saint John’s firefighters rescued and resuscitated a puppy.
Saint John’s firefighters brought the puppy back to life using mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
The dog, named Sawyer, is a three-month-old Goldendoodle. Firefighters said they found her huddled in a smoky laundry room. Matt Blue, his wife Amanda Blue and their two boys live in the home on Regimental Drive.
Matt Blue, an emergency room physician at Roper Hospital, was home when the storm hit. He heard a loud noise in the house after a lightning strike.
“It sounded like a one-ton rattlesnake,” he said.
He could feel an intense vibration on a wall of the master bedroom. Inside the wall, the fire was smoldering as it worked its way up to the ceiling. Blue pointed to where firefighters ripped out the ceiling of the bedroom to battle the fire. The bedroom sits atop the garage.
“I saw active flames in the ceiling of the garage,” he said.
Despite the fire and smoke damage to the house, it could have been a lot worse. Today was a day off for Matt Blue. Otherwise, no one would have been home when the fire happened, he said.
Amanda Blue said she came running up the driveway to their home when her husband called her to tell her about the blaze.
“The firemen were the heroes,” she said.
Saint John’s Lt. David Auricchio, engineer Michael Levine, firefighter Jared Michael and Matt Blue performed CPR on Sawyer and then administered oxygen when the dog was resuscitated. Late Wednesday afternoon, Sawyer seemed none the worse for the wear as she bounded about and played with children.
The firefighters said when Matt. Blue told them the dog was still in the house they went searching for her. At first, they thought she was a pile of clothes but then they realized it was Sawyer.
“It was a great thing to be able to bring the dog back to life, especially seeing the kids’ faces,” Auricchio said.
Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation was performed on the dog for about three minutes before she started breathing again, the firefighters said.
Firefighters from North Charleston, Charleston and James Island also responded to the scene.
East of the Cooper, lightning caused a house fire on Palmetto Isle Drive and also ignited a unit at Waterford Apartments, said Mount Pleasant Fire Department Battalion Chief Leon Lantagne.
Fire damage to the attic was reported at the home in the Rivertowne subdivision. One or two of the apartment occupants were displaced by the fire there, he said.
“We were pretty much non-stop with lightning strikes from about 12:30 to 4:30,” he said.
He knew of no one hit by lightning.
Fire crews raced to the Spoleto Festival building on George Street after a reported lightning strike shortly after 1 p.m. Emergency workers checked over the building, but no visible damage could be seen from the street,
Market Street in downtown Charleston was reported to be under about a foot of water shortly after the early-afternoon deluge. Flooding was reported on Coming, Cannon, East Bay and other streets.
Coming Street just south of Wentworth Street was flooded severely enough that some cars reversed course on the one-way street, while Meeting Street remained passable, though it also had large puddles near the sidewalk.
There were reports of quarter-sized hail and a report of a tree down at the intersection of Maybank Highway and River Road.
Brenda Rindge of The Post and Courier contributed to this report