Potential lightning strike leaves Deseronto family without a home

Firefighters from Deseronto and Tyendinaga Fire Departments battle the blaze on Dundas Street. Photo by Michelle Dorey Forestell/Kingstonist.

A family is left physically unscathed, but has lost their home due to a potential lightning strike Wednesday, Apr. 5, 2023, in the town of Deseronto.

Deseronto Fire Chief Daryl Brinklow was on his way home from Kingston at around 3 p.m. when he got the call about a fire at 284 Dundas Street in Deseronto. By the time he arrived at the scene, 30 Firefighters from the Deseronto Fire Department and the Tyendinaga Fire Department were battling a blaze that had fully engulfed the residence.

A mother and her three young children escaped the home with their dogs and cat. The billowing smoke hung low due to the inclement weather.

Brinklow confirmed that there were no injuries, but said the fire took “a couple of hours to knock down.”

“Other than smoke, there was no damage to the properties that were within probably 30 feet of it, which is good that way. So between the two departments, they did an outstanding job,” said Deseronto Fire Chief. Firefighters could be seen from this neighbour’s backyard very close to the blaze. Photo by Michelle Dorey Forestell/Kingstonist.

“We’re deeming it a potential lightning strike with the weather that passed through yesterday,” said Brinklow, who confirmed with other members of his crew that, “around the same time [the fire started], there was a lot of lightning going on above the Deseronto area, and what the tenant was saying added to what we determined that all adds up. And the OFM (Ontario Fire Marshal) is in agreeance with my speculation.”

While the intensity of a lightning strike can make them appear as thick bolts across the sky, the actual width of a lightning bolt is only about two to three centimetres. The average length of a lightning bolt is about two to three miles (3.21 to 4.83 kilometres).

The charge carried down this small channel is so intense that the temperature of the lightning reaches 30,000 °C — that’s five times hotter than the surface of the Sun.

The home was a total loss: the landlord had insurance, but, unfortunately, the tenant of the home was uninsured, according to Brinklow. “They’re gonna start to rebuild and do what they can,” he said noting that Victim Services had already been in touch with the family.

 “To the neighbouring residential properties,” Brinklow confirmed, “Other than smoke, there was no damage to the properties that were within probably 30 feet of it, which is good that way. So between the two departments, they did an outstanding job.” 

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