Lightning struck a home in Ottawa’s Barrhaven neighborhood last evening, sparking a fire in the basement.  The fire started just before 8 p.m. at a home on Noblesse Avenue, off Prince of Wales, south of Hunt Club. The bolt travelled from the roof, straight to the basement where it started a fire, causing an estimated $30,000 in damages. This morning, owners Dan Gagliardi and wife Cheyanne Eagle were busy packing up some of their belongings, including the family dog, to stay with relatives while their home is being renovated.

“We'll be out for a while,” says Gagliardi, “This is not going to be a quick fix.”

Gagliardi and his wife Cheyanne were watching TV last night with their two young daughters when a bright light filled the room, as a simultaneous boom was heard.

“A loud bang,” says Gagliardi, “it sound like shattered glass and then the power went off.”

Cheyanne Eagle adds, “I knew it (lightning) had hit the house and I was telling Dan we've been hit by lighting, call 9-1-1.  So we grabbed the pets and our jackets and headed over to the neighbor’s house in our pajamas.”

Lightning had struck near the roof of the house, about three-quarters of the way down the roof line.  There’s a visible charred hole where it appears to have hit.  The jolt of power blew a second floor night light apart before it travelled straight down into the basement furnace room.

“And it flash fired everything up,” says Gagliardi, standing in the charred remains of his furnace room, “This is one of our portable fans which now looks like piece of plastic goo.”

The lightning strike fried the electrical lines and burst their plumbing. But their quick action and a quick response by Ottawa Fire Services saved the rest of their house and that of their neighbor, just a few feet away from their edge of their home.

“We got out fast, no causalitie,” says Gagliardi, “houses can be rebuilt so we’ll rebuild.”

Lightning strikes are certainly not unusual.  In fact 10 Canadians are killed every year by lightning.

    The safest place is still to be inside, either a metal-encased car or a house.  But even that carries a small risk.

Peter Kimbell is a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada, “Some safety things to keep in mind,” says Kimbell, “is to try to avoid touching plumbing, wiring, avoid having a bath or a shower, don't talk on a corded telephone.”  Lightning can travel through a home’s plumbing, electrical system and the corded phone line.

Gagliardi says they are truly lucky the damage is limited to their home, which is covered by insurance.  He says maybe he'll put that luck to work for them.

“There's always that axiom that says you're more likely to get hit by lightning than win the lottery so I’m definitely investing in a few tickets this week.”