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House in Ottawa struck by lightning leaving hole in roof: 'We felt mostly shocked'

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The thunderstorm that hit Ottawa Thursday evening was accompanied by heavy rain and lightning that struck a house in Orleans.

Katherine Lemay who lives in Orleans told CTV News Ottawa in an interview Friday that she was reading a book in her bed Thursday night when she heard a “gigantic boom” and saw a flash of light.

"Then immediately all the lights went out in the house," she said. "I knew right away we were hit. The boom sounded like a bomb or a cannon going off."

That was when she ran downstairs where her husband was watching hockey, and where they were left in the dark using the flashlights of their phones.

They realized that there was a hole in the roof when they went outside to see what happened.

"I went outside ... and found roof shingles on our grass. So that reinforced my suspicion that we were hit by lightning. So, we grabbed a ladder and went to check the roof from the attic," Lemay added.

Lemay and her husband then called 911, as the last thing they were prepared for is the home to be hit by lightning.

When crews arrived at her home to assess the damage caused by the lightning strike, they were surprised that nothing ignited. She says that firefighters showed up with so many trucks, as they were prepared to battle a blaze. She adds that she was told by firefighters that normally, when a home is struck by lightning, it catches fire, noting that their case is "unique."

"Firefighters verified our attic and the hole, as well as our electrical to make sure there was no further damage. They also climbed on top of our roof to put a piece of plastic on the hole to protect from water damage," Lemay added.

"We do know that the assessor advised us that our attic insulation is all wet, so it needs to be fully replaced because it's no longer going to do its job. We don't have any ceiling water damage that we can see."

Lemay is grateful no one was hurt. She says, "we felt mostly shocked at what happened and also relief when we found out that it could have been much worse. We could have lost our home."

Firefighters told Lemay after a lightning strike, the electrical panel should not be touched, citing the possibility of getting electrocuted, as the panel could still be live with a charge.

"Apparently you should never touch your electrical panel after a lightning strike," she said. "It might sound obvious now, but it wasn't last night. The electrical panel could be still have a live charge, so when we went to fix the breaker and turn the lights back on, the firefighters advised us that I could have been electrocuted and died."

She says the damage was contained to the roof and attic. Currently, they’re working with the insurance assessor for repairs, she adds. 

On Thursday, severe weather moved across eastern Ontario, triggering several severe weather alerts, including some tornado warnings.

Thunderstorms were reported across Ottawa between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., with the severe weather forcing a delay in the Ottawa Redblacks game. A total of 11 millimeters of rain was recorded at the Ottawa Airport.

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