Neighbors sometimes really do help neighbors. And that is exactly what Kelly Bills did last Tuesday, when lightning struck his neighbors house in Frisco, Texas.
Bills called 911 when he saw his neighbor’s roof on fire, with smoke billowing out. Hearing dogs crying out from inside, Bills and another neighbor ran over to the burning home.
“I said, ‘Dude, you’ve got to get through this door,’ within two seconds we were in.” Bills said. “The smoke was billowing from the ceiling, it was really eerie. And they were barking, ‘Save us!’ kinda thing. So we grabbed them and booked out of there.”
No one else was home during the fire. The dogs are safe and staying with friends.
As for Bills, this wasn’t the first time he’s run into a burning building.
“Twenty years ago an apartment building had just started smoldering and I grabbed the hose, climbed up to the second level, hung off the balcony and by that time there were other people who turned on the water and — I don’t know what it is — I guess I should have been a fireman, I guess,” said Bills.
Fires caused by lightning strikes need a hero like Bills, for they may happen more often than people realize. According to a 2013 report by the National Fire Protection Association:
“During 2007-2011, U.S. local fire departments responded to an estimated average of 22,600 fires per year that were started by lightning. These fires caused an average of nine civilian deaths, 53 civilian injuries, and $451 million in direct property damage per year.”
And while most of these fires occurred outdoors, most of the injuries, deaths and property damage were associated with home fires.
NFPA reports that lightning-related fires are more common in the summer months of June through August and in the late afternoon and evening.
Since some dogs are natural predictors of severe thunderstorms, it just may be wise to watch and “listen to” the dog that hides under the bed or runs down into the basement before the sky even turns gray. And while not everyone can run into a burning home like these neighbors did, we can only be grateful for the kindness and courage of the heroes who do.