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Two lightning strikes in 10 minutes cause major damage

SOUTH BERWICK (WGME) -- Severe weather hit all across Maine this week, bringing thousands of lightning strikes with many of those storms.

Two of those strikes sparked fires in the same town on the same day.

South Berwick Fire Chief George Gorman says a single lightning strike sent a work shed up in flames in minutes.

"It was flat when we got here," said the homeowner Rae Avery.

She stood looking at what used to be her family's storage barn.

"There was a lot of equipment in here," she said.

Avery says there was about 40 years worth of her husband's masonry equipment plus some family collections.

"Cement mixers, wheelbarrows, staging, and that was a four wheeler," Avery explained.

The damage is upwards of $75,000, but Avery says it could've been worse.

"My children are fine, the animals are fine, we're fine, it's just stuff," she said.

The flames moved quickly, but were put out just in time , doing nothing more than melting some shutters on Avery's son's house feet away.

"I don't know who called the fire department, but whoever did thank you," Avery said.

Firefighters say a lightning strike this powerful doesn't happen often, or so they thought.

"Ten minutes after the first alarm, the second alarm came in," said Chief Gorman.

Gorman says another lightning bolt set a garage on fire just a few miles away on Emery's Bridge Road.

"We were spread pretty thin there for a few minutes," Gorman said.

Both strikes sparked raging fires, something the Chief says hasn't happened here in more than twenty years.

"As my husband said, we can't win the lottery, but we got hit by lightning," Avery said laughing.

Avery says they never buy lottery tickets but after this, she's considering it.

After all, they could use some extra cash to replace what they lost and to start cleaning up.

Chief Gorman says the common denominator in both lightning strikes was high trees around the homes.

He says the first thing you can do to protect your property through severe weather is make sure you don't have any tall trees too close to your house.

Gorman says by law, you need to have a rod from your electrical panel into the ground to catch the electricity of a strike.

And to protect yourself and your family, Gorman says stay inside, turn off all electronics, stay away from plumbing, and don't run the water.

If you can't get into a house, a car is the second safest spot during a storm.