(The following article appeared originally on Kim Wells’s blog at https://www.thewellslawgroup.com/blog/2015/12/florida-lightning-strikes-and-fire-damage/)
If you live in Florida, it is important to understand the risk of fire claims as a result of lightning strikes. When most of us consider home fires and the possibility of fire damage, we tend to think about fires that start as a result of electrical issues or kitchen leaks. However, lightning strikes lead to a significant number of fires in our state every year and, indeed, across the country. What do you need to know about the relationship between lightning strikes and fire claims?
Home Fires and Thunderstorms
First, it is essential to understand that lightning strikes happen much more often than most of us are likely to assume. According to a report from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), local fire departments across the country respond to an average of more than 22,000 fires every year that start because of lightning strikes. And while the severity of these lightning strike-related fires varies, many result in serious property damage and fatal bodily injuries. To be sure, on average each year, nearly 10 civilian deaths occur as a result of lightning strike-related fires, and homeowners incur more than $450 million in “direct property damage per year.” When do most lightning strikes cause house fires? More of these fires tend to occur, as you might expect, during peak lightning season. In Florida (and in fact throughout much of the U.S.), “fires started by lightning peak in the summer months and in the later afternoon and early evening.” Generally speaking, most lightning fires happen in June, July, and August. And a majority of the fires occur in the late afternoon or in the evening hours. Not all lightning-related fires cause damage to homes. Based on data in the report, a majority of lightning fires occur outside houses in outdoor vegetation. However, just because a fire is outside your home does not mean that it cannot cause property damage. To be sure, outdoor materials, including your automobiles, can be at risk of fire damage during a lightning storm. Here are the statistics:
- 19 percent of lightning-related fires impact home structures;
- 7 percent of these fires occur to non-home structures;
- 1 percent of fires caused by lightning strikes result in vehicle damage; and
- 63 percent of lightning-related fires impact outdoor vegetation.
Fires caused by lightning strikes can also occur outdoors, but not within vegetation. If fire damage from lightning strikes is a serious concern, what can we do to protect our homes?
According to a guide published by Standards Information Network and IEEE Press, homeowners should understand where lightning tends to strike residential properties and how those lightning strikes cause different kinds of damage. Lightning strikes that result in fires can occur in the following ways:
- Strikes to power lines near a home;
- Direct lightning strike to a structure;
- Strike to objects or equipment outside but adjacent to a house; and
- Lightning strikes to a nearby object, such as a tree.
If you suffered fire damage as a result of a lightning strike, it is important to learn more about filing a claim for compensation. You should discuss your case with an experienced Southwest Florida fire claims attorney as soon as possible. Contact Valrico Law Group to learn more about how we can assist you.