Firefighters pull couple from Landis house fire sparked by lightning

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 10, 2012

By Nathan Hardin
LANDIS — Firefighters pulled a Mt. Moriah Church Road couple from their home this morning after a lightning strike set the attic on fire.
Division Chief Art Delaney said three Landis firefighters were staged at Sandy Ridge convenience store while other units checked on a fire alarm in the Atwell fire district about 4 a.m.
Firefighters Rodney Wilhoit, brother Grady Wilhoit, and Stephen Overcash heard the loud crack of thunder as lightning hit a nearby home at 1580 Mt. Moriah Church Road near the intersection of U.S. 153.
As they watched, smoke and fire began to show near the roof top, Delaney said.
“It wasn’t just a flicker of flames,” he said. “It was coming out the front.”
The three loudly knocked a few times before forcing the wooden door open and running to the bedroom.
Brenda Brown said her parents, Billy Ray and Addie Brown, were asleep when Addie heard the loud “kaboom.”
“It was a blessing,” she said. “They were already on the scene.”
Addie was trying to wake Billy when the firefighters entered, she said.
Crews said they assisted one outside and carried the other.
Brenda said Red Cross had contacted the family about assisting, but the family was still grieving over the loss of the home.
“It was a traumatic loss,” she said.
Division Chief Delaney said the fire spread quickly throughout the attic, catching fire to stored family items that were piled “waist to chest high.”
“I’m thinking it’s totaled,” Delaney said of the house. “The attic was completely gutted.”
Kannapolis, Atwell, China Grove and Enochville Fire departments responded to the fire.
Firefighters from Atwell and Kannapolis also entered the home through three separate ladders leading into the attic to make an “aggressive interior attack,” Delaney said.
Family members sat outside the home Tuesday morning as neighbors drove by to check on them.
They rested in chairs and cars parked in front of the home. Yellow fire tape prevented them from entering the ruined home. They did not want to talk to reporters.
Brown said she quickly hurried over to the home when a relative called her about the fire.
“I just embraced both of them,” she said, when she arrived on the scene early this morning.
Delaney said the firefighters acted quickly and probably saved lives.
“It was a great team effort,” he said.
Brenda Brown said her family was grateful for the quick response.
“We’re just thankful for everybody who came out here to respond,” she said. “They all did a wonderful job.”
Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.