Rob Timmerman // The Post and Courier
James McIntire describes the damage done to his bedroom ceiling during the lightning storm last night. McIntire’s girlfriend, Erika Hollings, said that she was in bed as her 6-month-old son Hunter slept in the crib to her right. “Thank God the crib wasn’t near the window” Hollings said.
MONCKS CORNER -- Lightning appears to have caused a house fire in the Del Webb retirement community early Wednesday, and then delayed firefighters' response.
Whitesville Rural Fire Chief Tim Stephenson said an antenna on top of the communications center that serves more than a dozen rural fire departments appears to have taken a lightning strike during Wednesday morning's powerful storm, knocking out radio transmissions just as reports came in of a fire at Del Webb.
Stephenson said dispatchers resorted to the old-fashioned method of calling firefighters. Luckily, firefighters were at the station at the time.
"We just had to go wake them up," he said.
Whitesville and Pine Ridge firefighters responded to the house fire in about 14 minutes because of the interference, he said.
Witnesses said it appears lightning struck the attic and garage, causing a fire that was put out fairly quickly. Stephenson said the damage was not extensive.
He said the homeowner is staying with her son until the house is repaired.
A West Ashley couple also felt the force from the storm that crossed the Lowcountry. Erika Hollings said she was in the bedroom of her Pinckney Park Drive home and watching the storm from out the window when lightning struck the house, blasting a 6-foot-long hole in their ceiling, about a foot away from where her 6-month-old son Hunter was sleeping in his crib.
"It was just like a boom. It was an explosion," she said.
The hole was surrounded by embers and emitting smoke. It was so hot it melted the insulation. Hollings and her boyfriend, James McIntire, called the fire department.
"I just immediately grabbed Hunter and ran," she said. "It was lightning so bad outside that I didn't even want to leave the house."
Firefighters tore out the embers but said there was no fire.