Lightning strike, fire cause damage to Wathena home

By Paul Stewart
Kansas Chief – April 17, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – April 23, 2014

Click on photo to view full-size image.

Click on photo to view full-size image.

Lightning–and a subsequent fire–during last Saturday night’s thunderstorm caused heavy damage to the Curtis Kruse residence at 409 Benton Street in Wathena.

Neither Kruse, his wife, nor their two dogs were injured.

A neighbor on Sunday morning commented to The Chief, “I saw what looked like a giant fireball. It was quite a blast!”

Kruse recalled, “It was about 10:30 when it struck.

“I was getting ready to take a shower (on the lower level of the residence). Pat (his wife) was in bed, on the second level of the house.

“It was like a bomb going off. The whole house shook. All of us, including our dogs, were shell-shocked.

“It blew a big, four-by-four-foot, picture off the bedroom wall and it just missed my wife.”

Kruse said he quickly went to the attic, where he knew the problem would be. “The stairway to the attic was covered in fallen plaster. I saw two spots that were burning. I tried, but could not put out the fire with a fire extinguisher,” he continued.

When the first fire trucks arrived, Kruse remembered that firefighter John Hontz, and others, went into the attic to put the fire out. Later, he learned that there was an area about 10-foot long and about four-foot wide that was damaged in the attic.

The fire, Kruse said, could be seen burning inside the walls of the residence. “They were glowing.” Sunday morning, portions of the melted siding could be observed on both the lower southeast, as well as the lower southwest, of the residence.

The fire victim said his wife quickly got their two dogs–‘Lady,’ a German Shepherd and ‘Teddy,’ a Yorkshire Terrier–out of the residence. They were taken to Mark Long’s residence, a neighbor to the west.

Fire units from Elwood assisted Wathena firefighters at the scene.

A short time after fire units arrived, an ambulance from Troy was summoned, and Wathena Fire Chief Tony Libel was transported to the hospital for examination.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster