CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A couple in Chester has been forced out of their home after a lightning bolt hit the roof and a fire broke out on Thursday, July 21.
Rita and James Turner have been living at their home on Mount Blanco Road for more than two decades.
Now, there’s a gaping hole right through the roof. The ceiling is partially fallen in.
When 8News arrived, James had been attempting to clean up the foam and burnt belongings on the floor.
“It’s not pleasant to look at. It’s not pleasant to go into either,” he said.
The charred belongings can be found on their stairs as well, which lead into the kitchen. Pieces of debris are on the ground and on the roof.
“It’s a mess,” James said.
During yesterday’s thunderstorm, Rita had been reading a book while James was working on some papers in one of the rooms.
The couple both heard a loud pop and at first, didn’t think much of it. However, lightning had just struck their house and cracked a light fixture on their roof, blowing the fuse.
After smelling smoke, James called 911 and Rita jumped into action to try to extinguish the flames on her own.
Rita said she saw the fire coming from the side of the roof.
“I picked up the hose, and I stood and I tried to put the fire out,” she said.
Unfortunately, the lightning had popped their water main also. Chesterfield Fire responded and arrived quickly around 4:40 p.m. and got the fire under control at 6 p.m.
The couple didn’t get the chance to grab their essentials. They forgot their phones and Rita left her purse and shoes. They told 8News that firefighters were able to get some of their belongings.
“We didn’t have any shoes. We didn’t have an umbrella. We were standing in the rain,” Rita said.
One can see right through the couple’s office where their important papers are now scorched and wet.
James called the scene ‘depressing.’
“The thing I really am going to have a hard time with is my genealogy because I have a lot of old papers and stuff in the family that are directly underneath where that hole in the roof is,” he said.
According to Chesterfield Fire, one firefighter was taken to the hospital with very minor, heat-related injuries but is expected to return to work in the next few days.
Ultimately, the family is glad that no one was seriously hurt.
Rita told 8News that she called the crew members of the Chesterfield Fire Department her heroes because they were kind and considerate. Neighbors also went outside to find out about the incident and bought pizza for the firemen.
“We stayed around in the rain and all of our neighbors were standing around looking up,” Rita said. People came up to us and asked what they could do for us.”
The couple’s son and his family were able to grab extra clothes and essentials that the Turners might need. Rita and James also said their neighbors have offered them a place to stay.
“We’re happy that we still have a lot of the memories that we brought back in our overseas travels and the United States travels. We’re happy that we had insurance and that there’s something to look forward to,” Rita said. We don’t have to look backward. We can look forward to tomorrow rather than worrying about yesterday and today.”
Although they’ve lost quite a bit, the couple is looking on the positive side and planning to move when they can.