Lightning causes fires, injuries Monday afternoon

Afternoon thunderstorms kept area firefighters busy Monday, generating several calls that included reports of a man in Burton getting struck by lightning.

Burton firefighters received word just before 4 p.m. that a man told Beaufort County dispatchers he'd be struck by lightning near a home on Lawson Road near Laurel Bay, said Burton Fire District Chief Harry Rountree.

Rountree said the man was conscious and alert and talking with dispatchers shortly after notifying authorities.

While en route to the call, Rountree said, his firefighters were waved off by Beaufort County EMS, who did not need assistance in handling the call. EMS declined to give information on the man's condition or details surrounding the lightning strike, citing patient confidentiality laws.

Burton firefighters also responded to two reports of lightning striking homes -- one on Dorchester Avenue and another in the Habersham subdivision off Joe Frazier Road. Neither of the reported strikes resulted in structure fires, Rountree said.

Beaufort firefighters were called to a house on the 1000 block of Newcastle Street to reports of a fire that was believed to have started when lightning struck the home or something near the home, said Lt. Dan Byrne, Beaufort Fire Department spokesman.

Byrne said the lightning caused an electrical outlet to spark, and that ignited a nearby couch. The owner was home at the time and able to keep the fire at bay until firefighters arrived.

"Had the homeowner not been home, we would have had a pretty good fire on our hands," Byrne said.

No injuries were reported. The fire caused less than $1,000 in damage to the home's wiring, carpet and the couch, Byrne said.

Firefighters, Beaufort police and county EMS were on scene for about an hour.