Friday, August 20, 2004

Lightning strike zaps house

Fast-burning blaze reduces Camas County home to rubble

Express Staff Writer

Antique furniture were among the losses sustained by the Gorringe family in Tuesday?s blaze. Photo by David N. Seelig

Like a blast from Thor?s hammer, a massive thunderbolt blasted through the roof of a three-bedroom eastern Camas County ranch house Tuesday, setting ablaze a fire that reduced it to rubble.

Lightning continued to zap the region Wednesday as Curtis and Camie Gorringe sat in camping chairs circled out-side their charred home and described the fire. Under the caved in and scorched metal roof, the remains of the house and the exterior ground were smeared with greasy ash from the doused fire that turned window and door frames to brittle charcoal. Window hardware hung loose in place of the disintegrated wood.

Meanwhile, they have been using a patched in phone to help sort out their affairs.

The Gorringes came home to see the house burning from the lightning strike Tuesday evening. Camie got home from Boise, where she is studying to become a massage therapist, in time to see the home engulfed in flames. Curtis arrived a short while later from Hailey, where he works at Woodside RV as a mechanic.

?I don?t know if I?m the chosen one or the damned one. It?s hard to tell,? Camie said to a friend on the phone, who called to check in on the family Wednesday.

The Gorringes have two children Cassie, 11, and CJ, 14, who attend Blaine County schools. Their eldest child, Chelse, who works in Boise and came to see the house Tuesday, said she felt lucky because she had moved out with most of her belongings.

?I will miss the pictures of my grandparents,? Chelse said. ?We had a lot of home videos.?

Some of the videos could be seen in the charred remains of what was the living room--now just a shell of burnt stud walls and bent metal draped with shreds of yellow insulation.

All the glass in the home was gone. The first pane broke when a neighbor threw a rock through one of the windows knowing that a family cat named Wildman was still inside.

?Before the rock hit the ground the cat was coming out the window,? Curtis said.

The family moved 10 years ago to their 40-acre farm, located 15 miles west of Hailey at the end of Croy Creek Road.

?We were the last family grandfathered into the school district,? Curtis said.

The family will stay and rebuild, they said. They planned to meet with an insurance adjuster on Thursday and hoped to get electricity back to the property where they care for some animals and raise alfalfa hay.

?There?s not one thing useful in this house,? Camie said, emotional about the loss of the family?s collection of por-celain Christmas figurines and heirloom antiques, including a piano.

Curtis was visibly moved when he described his bottle collection that went down in the fire. He had many colored bottles and a metal bottle-shaped ?Bohemian can? still sealed from the turn of the 19th Century.

One thing that did survive was a satellite television dish, but not the TV.

Richard Hahn, Chief Deputy Fire Inspector for the State of Idaho said the fire appeared to have started in the floor of the manufactured home.

?Lightning is very strange, very unpredictable,? Hahn said. ?There was a lot of very intense damage.?

The recent stormy weather began last week. On the first day of the Sun Valley Arts and Crafts Festival patrons and artists scrambled to find safety after a lightning storm shot through the outdoor venue Friday. A tree near the fair caught on fire, but rain that followed the lightning strike doused the flames.

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