Minden Press-Herald

Sep 19th

Fire destroys Center Street home


Ronald and Michelle Anderson thought an evening at home with family and friends would be fun. Little did they know, when Friday was over, they would be without a home to share.

"We were having a crawfish boil," Michelle said. "We never got to eat even one."

Lightning is likely to blame for the fire that destroyed the Anderson's residence at 921 Center Street. The house where they have lived 25 years and reared three daughters was consumed by fire when a storm roared through Minden Friday night.

"It was such a weird feeling when the lightning actually hit the house," Michelle said. "We didn't realize it was on fire at first, but then we could smell the smoke."

Ronald Anderson was leaning against a porch swing chain and felt the sting of the strike through his arm.

"It felt like somebody pinched me," he said. "I looked up at the house and didn't see anything, but then I walked around and looked up at the front of the house, and

it was glowing. When you consider that our power was out, I knew it shouldn't have been doing that."

And even though the Andersons have a sign on their front porch (complete with a fake gun) that says, "We don't call 911," that's exactly what they did.

Minden Assistant Fire Chief Tommy John Hughes said his department was dispatched around 8:11 p.m. in the middle of the storm. It took approximately three hours to put out the blaze and ensure all the hot spots were gone.

"We aren't sure but we feel like the cause was a lightning strike," Hughes said. "The couple were on the deck and heard it strike a tree nearby. The next thing they knew, there was smoke coming from the roof."

Hughes said the two-and-a-half story house was filled with crawl spaces and voids, making it difficult to extinguish the fire.

"When we arrived, the area above the front porch was on fire and from there it progressed to the attic," he said. "From the inside, we couldn't find any fire."

Firefighters John Tucker, John Thompson and Ronnie Chreene entered the residence in an effort to locate the fire, while others vented above the front porch area.

"At that point, we had a flash-over on the second floor." Hughes said. "It was about as bad as it gets on a house fire."

Hughes said at one point the ceiling collapsed on the second floor of the residence and the windows blew out.

"The entire attic was involved," he said, "and there was fire blowing out of the turbans.

"We can't save them all ... we just do the best we can."

Three firefighters were slightly injured during the three hours they fought the fire. All were treated at Minden Medical Center and released.

While Minden's firefighters were working on Center Street, a call came in for visible smoke at Lamplighter Apartments.

"District 10 came in with mutual aid, so we sent a truck to Lamplighter, but there was nothing to the call from the apartments, so District 10 came to Center Street to help us," Hughes said. "District 7 came in to stand by at Central Fire Station. We had emergency medical technicians on the scene the whole time."

The Andersons said, considering how many people were at their home at the time of the strike, (eight to 10 adults and several teenagers and small children) they know they are blessed no one was injured. Now they will start to pick up the pieces and put their lives back together.

"People want to bring us things and help us, but we don't know what we need," Michelle said. "I will know later – when I get some feeling back. All I know right now is that I want to go home, and I can't."

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