Joliet house fire sparked by lightning kills veteran, 85

JOLIET, Ill. (WLS) -- Lightning struck a home in Joliet, sparking a fire that killed an 85-year-old man who was trapped inside.

The East Joliet Fire Protection District confirms lightning caused a smoky fire at Raymond Ziegler's home. One neighbor shared video of the storm that he said woke him up. He was across the street when lightning hit his neighbor's house.

"During the weather that we were having, the severity of the lightning it just hit and took the house with it," said Deputy Fire Chief Matt Grohar, East Joliet Fire Protection District.

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Neighbors told firefighters when they arrived that Ziegler lived alone in the home.

"There was furniture and many other obstacles that were in the house at the time which compromised getting in and success maneuvering inside," Grohar said.

After second search, firefighters found Ziegler. They said he died from smoke inhalation.

"The majority of fire set in the back of the house, there was no flames showing in the front when they arrived, it was all in the back," Grohar said.

Ziegler's family declined interviews, but said he was originally from Mount Vernon. He was a Korean War Veteran and had nine great grandchildren.
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