The Houston Mesa Fire Department was on the scene of a lightning-caused house fire in Mesa del Caballo four minutes after it was reported Friday evening, according to Houston Mesa Fire Chief Chuck Jacobs.
"The first unit on the scene found light smoke showing from the house," Jacobs said. "An interior attack was made and we found a small amount of fire burning in the attic, with extensive damage in the attic."
With assistance from the Payson and Beaver Valley fire departments, the fire was controlled in 18 minutes. Although the fire was reported at 5:37 p.m., Jacobs did not leave the scene until 9:30 p.m. when the owner arrived from the Valley.
"One of the reasons we were there so long is that there was so much fire damage in the attic we kept expecting we would have some little pockets of fire that we were having difficulty locating," he said. "We had one where they ended up having to open a little concealed space to get to it."
Jacobs said lightning apparently struck an old television antenna that was no longer in use at the house on Toya Vista Road.
"Any metallic things sticking up in the air that are not adequately grounded should be taken down," he said. "They just provide a target for the lightning."
But while lightning normally seeks out the tallest object in an area, its behavior is erratic.
"The reality is, lightning does not read the rule book," Jacobs said. "It pretty much does what it wants."