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TJ Jerke, Forum Communications, Published July 04 2012

Rural Grand Forks home burns after lightning strike

GRAND FORKS – Ashley Champagne woke up at about 9:45 a.m. Wednesday to a loud thunder crash outside her home northwest of here.

Soon after, she saw a bright flash and began to smell something unusual. After inspecting her single-story home, she noticed lightning had caused the west end to catch fire.

By the time volunteer fire crews arrived at the scene at about 10 a.m., the fire had engulfed the house.

“It sucks,” she said while watching fire departments from Gilby, Manvel and Emerado battle the blaze. “That’s what you get for living outside of town.”

Emerado Fire Chief Marvin Jensen said 20 firefighters were on scene and had the blaze under control in 20 minutes. The fire was completely put out in about an hour and a half. No injuries were reported.

“It looks like a total loss,” Jensen said.

Champagne, a Grafton High School graduate, said she and Jon Champagne, her husband of two years, just moved into the home at the end of March. Jon had left to go golfing early in the morning.

After alerting 911, Champagne said she got out of the house, wearing only a sweatshirt and pants.

“I didn’t have time to think,” she said. “I just grabbed the dog and got out of there; I didn’t take anything out.”

Champagne said the couple had home insurance and plan to go through all the necessary steps to start over.

TJ Jerke writes for the Grand Forks Herald