BRISTOL, R.I. (WPRI) — Janet Dewey was inside her Bristol home at the Courtyard Apartment complex Tuesday evening when all of the sudden she saw a bright flash of light outside.
“Everything sparked,” she recalled. “I jumped off the couch.”
Dewey later learned that lightning had struck the Metacom Avenue complex.
“It frightened the life out of me, I’ve never witnessed anything like that before,” she said. “It was powerful.”
The situation was similar all across town, with fast-moving thunderstorms damaging homes and flooding roadways.
Deputy Fire Chief Daniel Cheatom said residents reported eight lightning strikes within a five-minute span.
“[It was] pretty intense,” Cheatom said. “There were three structure fires and a bunch of trees hit.”
Firefighters rushed to a home just down the street from Dewey’s apartment complex, which was also hit by a lightning strike.
While the home isn’t a total loss, Cheatom said the residents will be displaced temporarily.
Across town, Rebecca Bené tells 12 News lightning struck her mother’s Valley Drive home.
“Suddenly, I saw a bolt of fire,” she recalled. “It was red and yellow … there was a large boom and I screamed.”
Bené said the lightning hit the chimney, sending bricks flying all over the yard and into the driveway.
“It was scary,” she said. “I didn’t know what it was at first.”
Thankfully, firefighters told Bené that the lightning went through the chimney and out into the yard, as opposed to charging through the house.
When asked what residents can do to protect themselves from lightning strikes, Cheatom was frank.
“You just have to stay in the house and pray. That’s it,” he said. “Mother Nature always wins.”
No injuries were reported.
The American Red Cross said its providing assistance to four families – seven adults and three children – after the fires.
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Tim White and Johnny Villella contributed to this report.