Lightning strike may have caused Barrington Hills house fire

BARRINGTON HILLS, Ill. (WLS) -- Investigators believe a massive fire at a home in northwest suburban Barrington Hills was caused by a lightning strike.

The homeowner said she had no idea a thunderstorm could turn her life upside down. The extra-alarm fire was called a freak accident.

"Those are the worst ones, aren't they?" said MaryMarie Konisek, a neighbor.

A family's home was reduced to rubble and ashes Thursday morning. Apparently, it all started with a strike of lightning and a boom of thunder around 3:30 a.m.

"We just thought to ourselves, we hope it didn't hit a house or a roof or a tree or something like that," Konisek said.

The homeowner said off-camera that she heard the thunder and then went back to sleep for another hour. When she woke to the sound of her intercom blaring, her home was engulfed in flames.

"When we arrived on the scene, the flames were through the roof already," said Chief Jim Kreher, Barrington Countryside Fire Prevention District.

The homeowner grabbed her dog and ran out. Emergency responders said she's lucky she's alive. Neighbors also said it's lucky the fire didn't spread.

"There's a lot of farm animals around here, so that's another scary thing. And the fact that we don't have hydrants. It's pretty much a nightmare," said Shelly Mielke, who lives next door.

No fire hydrants meant that more than 20 fire departments pitched in to haul water to the scene.

The fire was under control a few hours later, but the home is uninhabitable.

Kreher said it's a terrible situation that's nearly impossible to prevent.

"It can happen anywhere and everywhere. Thankfully, no one was hurt," Konisek said.

Kreher said the house was so damaged that it will be difficult - if not impossible - to find the exact spot where the lightning likely hit.

Fortunately, no one was injured.
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