Firefighters declare ‘miracle’ after villager escapes from lightning strike
A man from the village of Monarch Grove said firefighters told him it was a miracle he and his house survived a lightning strike.
Owen Steele was at home at 12:45 p.m. on June 14 when his home was directly hit.
âIt cooked my gas line,â said Steele, who bought the house on Sarakinis Path in 2019.
Lightning left a hole in the roof of his garage the size of a bowling ball. Steele’s son, 28, a U.S. Marine who served in hot spots around the world and stayed with his father on strike day, couldn’t believe the sound.
âHe said he had never heard of anything like it,â Steele said.
The village public security arrived on the scene to secure the house and observe the damage.
âThey said it was just a miracle that the whole house didn’t blow up,â said Steele, who is a longtime tenant in The Villages and whose parents moved here many years ago.
After firefighters cleared the area, Steele started an inventory of the damage and began trying to figure out what had happened.
The electrical wiring and tankless water heater were among the long list of damage.
âThe gas meter itself on the outside had to be removed and replaced that day. It was fried from the lightning bolts going through it. Obviously, the heat alone melted the tracer wire on the pipe where it meets the ground, âSteele said.
He obtained a report which showed that there had been 22 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes within a mile of its front door. The most powerful of strikes hit his house.
“There were seven simultaneous strikes at 12:44:55 totaling over 300,000 amps of peak current which may have caused the damage,” said Frank Criste of LightningProtectionTheVillages.com, who helped Steele analyze the data.
Up to 30 homes in Steele’s neighbors were also damaged. Many have had to replace set-top boxes, modems and garage door openers.
In the week following the lightning strike, Steele vigorously absorbed everything he could learn about lightning. He said he would like to save his fellow citizens from a similar fate.
âThe only thing I want to convey personally is that if I had known the reasonably priced safety measures I could have taken before this incident, I would not have hesitated,â Steele said.
He said he could have had a lightning protection system installed for around $ 1,800.
His neighbor opposite had a complete lightning rod system installed the day after the lightning strike.
Learn more about lightning protection systems on this link