Lightning destroys two Madawaska Valley homes

 Fire chief calling the separate incidents rare

COMBERMERE – Two homes in the Valley burned to the ground last week. This is all that remains of a home on Tamarack Road. Photo Gregory Zawidzki

Staff Reporter

Madawaska Valley – Long-time Fire Chief for the Madawaska Valley, Andrew Peplinski has never seen anything like it.

Over the course of 24 hours, lightning struck and completely destroyed two separate homes in the township.

The first fire happened after the very first severe thunderstorm of the year, during the early morning hours of March 15. Firefighters were called to a house fire at 67910 Tamarack Road in Combermere.

Chief Peplinski said the call was received at around 5:30 a.m. A crew of around 25 firefighters arrived on scene about 15 minutes later. Crews from the Brudenell-Lyndoch-Raglan fire department helped with water services.

“The fire was everywhere,” Peplinski said.

The home is owned by Peter Fright and Eileen Faye. They were both inside the home, along with a visitor from England, when the blaze broke out.

The fire chief recalls what the owners witnessed when they were startled from their sleep.

“They heard the thunder, there was a big bang in the house,” he said. “They all woke up, looked around, and they could all see something glowing and didn’t know what it was.”
Essentially, the fire had already spread to the walls of the home.

“The electrical outlets seemed all popped off in the kitchen and the ceiling was on fire and the roof was on fire,” Peplinski explained.

The chief said there was a bit of delay in response because the owner had trouble getting through to 911. Flustered, he had called a friend to contact 911. The three occupants of the home got out of the house unharmed.

Crews remained on scene until around 2:00 p.m. that afternoon. The fire was stubborn and was smouldering inside the walls.

“It was really difficult to get at,” he said.

Story continues in the March 22, 2012 issue of The Valley Gazette.