Lightning sparks blaze that destroys Caulfield-area home
Lightning sparked a July 5 house fire on Highway 160 west of Caulfield that destroyed the home of an older Ozark County couple. The Times could not confirm the couple's identity, but their last name is thought to be Metz.
Caulfield Membership Fire Department chief Shannon Sisney said firefighters used more than 40,000 gallons of water as they actively fought the blaze that started when lightning from a late-afternoon thunderstorm struck the roof of the two-story log-siding home.
Tecumseh, Bakersfield, Cloud 9 Ranch and Howell Rural fire departments responded in mutual aid with Caulfield, along with Ozark County Ambulance, Howell Oregon Electric Cooperative, the Ozark County Sheriff's Department and the American Red Cross.
The first emergency responder on scene was Tecumseh VFD assistant chief J. D. Duke, who lives 6 miles from the Metz home and arrived in his personal vehicle five minutes after his department was dispatched at 6:53 p.m.
"I knew the man who lives there is in a wheelchair, and I wanted to make sure he and his wife got out," Duke said.
The couple was at home when lightning started the fire, but they were already outside when Duke arrived. A son who lives with the couple was not at home when the fire started.
When Duke arrived, smoke was coming from "all four corners of the attic," he said. "Within 10 minutes, when the first fire department vehicle arrived, fire was showing through the shingle roof of the front room."
In the first few moments after he arrived, Duke was able to get a side-by-side ATV and a few other items out of the garage, but "smoke was going everywhere," he said, and nothing else was saved.
Sisney said the fire went from "no flames visible to fully engulfed" in only a few minutes. In a post on the Times Facebook page, he said, "The house was fully involved (meaning fire had filled the interior of the home and had already started burning through the roof) when the first truck arrived, so even with 10 trucks and 30 firefighters, it took time to get under control."
The house was a total loss, he said, but firefighters, who stayed on scene for several hours, were able to save two nearby outbuildings.