By Floyd Ingram/Chickasaw Journal
MANTEE – A Thursday morning fire destroyed a Mantee home and fire officials believe lightning may have sparked the blaze.
Smoke and flames were visible when firefighters from five volunteer fire departments responded to the home of Sherrie Valdez, 222 Highway 46, about 6:30 a.m.
“They told us they heard a loud lightning strike and a little while later they found the fire,” said Mantee Fire Chief David Brand. “The homeowner and her two daughters were getting ready for school when the lightning struck. They got out safely, but the fire totally destroyed the house.”
A cold front that moved through the area Thursday morning was filled with lightning and drenched the region with heavy rain.
“The rain was a little bit of a problem because it made things sloppy,” said Brand. “But on the other hand it was cooler and that helped firefighters attacking the blaze.”
Brand said the fire got in the attic and was difficult to reach.
“The house had a metal roof and we had trouble finding the fire as we fought it,” said Brand. “We had to pull down ceiling to find the fire. The flames were coming out of the eaves when we pulled up to the house.”
Brand said more than 20 firefighters responded to the blaze including fire trucks from Woodland, Clarkson, Maben and Montpelier.
Brand said firefighters were told oxygen bottles were inside and they were quickly located and removed.
“This family lost everything and the community has pulled together to help them,” said Brand. “We are asking people to contact local churches if they want to make a donation.”