It was a night that Norwell Fire Chief T. Andrew Reardon will not soon forget. Within a span of about five minutes Wednesday, lightning struck two homes, setting both on fire.
The fires at homes on Winter Street and Craneberry Lane both started when lightning struck nearby and electricity was conducted to the houses by wires buried in the ground that were part of invisible dog fences, Reardon said.
Lightning was still flashing as firefighters from Norwell and seven other towns battled to save the buildings. “I’m very proud of my people. They made a textbook fire attack under extreme conditions,” Reardon said.
The first lightning strike at 10:02 p.m. set a garage attached to a large colonial style home at 341 Winter St. on fire.
“There was heavy fire in the two-car garage on the left side of the building which had a finished room on the second floor,” Reardon said. No vehicles were in the garage.
A second alarm was struck when flames threatened to spread to the main house, bringing firefighters from Hingham, Marshfield and Hull to the scene. The family living in the home had left without injury, and while fire damage was contained mainly to the garage, the house sustained extensive smoke damage, Reardon said.
He was on his way to the Winter Street home when the dispatch center received a call for a fire at a home close by at 11 Cranberry Lane. Firefighters from Norwell along with Rockland, Scituate, Pembroke and Cohasset contained the fire to a laundry room and surrounding area, Reardon said. Several people who were in the house when the fire started were not injured.
Lightning struck a 40-foot high tree behind the Winter Street house, then jumped to an underground wire that was attached to the garage. The top of the tree was set on fire, and the bottom was splintered. Firefighters cut it down as a precaution.
Firefighters from Hanson and Hanover covered Norwell’s fire station until the fires were out.
National Grid reported that about 360 customers in Quincy and about 1,400 customers in Cohasset, Norwell, Rockland and Scituate lost electricity during the storm.
The lights were back on as of 7 a.m. Thursday, company spokesman David Graves said.