Family loses home to fire caused by lightning

TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. — A family with two young children lost their home in Tarpon Springs and nearly everything in it to a fire that was caused by a lightning strike.

In a split second, everything changed for the Stephenson family: Kailyn, Adam, and their two young boys, a 4-year-old and an 18-month-old.

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“Lightning struck very loudly, very close, and I knew immediately that we were a direct hit,” said Kailyn Stephenson. “I said, ‘Adam, we were just hit by lightning.’ And he goes yeah that was really close. And I said, ‘No, no, we were just, our house was just hit by lightning.”

They got up and started to check the house when Kailyn says she could soon smell something electrical.

“By the time I came halfway back down the stairs, smoke was billowing out of that vent there, the AC vents, and at that moment, we knew that we had indeed caught on fire and needed to get out of the house,” said Kailyn.

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Tarpon Springs Fire Rescue believes a lightning strike was to blame. After the strike, the family helped alert neighbors to the fire.

“We were across our way with our neighbors. There was a time you couldn’t even see our house, the smoke was so thick and so bad,” said Adam Stephenson.

When the family was finally able to get inside, they were greeted with soot, ash, and debris. Kailyn says belongings had been waterlogged while their home is a total loss and nearly everything gone with it, including furniture, sentimental items, and the irreplaceables.

“To me, it’s material stuff, but we invested our time to make it a house to live in, and when we got here, it was just 3 to 5 inches of just soot, nasty just slush on the ground,” said Adam. “One day, I saw the floor, and it’s like, we’re going uphill. It’s like running through quicksand, but we’re getting there.”

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Kailyn says a house fire has always been her number one fear and explained how getting through this process has been devastating.

“I can’t think about the big picture because when I do, it’s too much. It’s overwhelming,” said Kailyn. “This is overwhelming, to begin with, but it’s more than I can take.”

The family explains they don’t have homeowner’s insurance, and instead, they’re left to rebuild their lives while they try to salvage what they can.

To help support the Stephenson family, a GoFundMe has been set up by family members, which lists other options to donate as well. At this time, the family says they are holding off on donations like clothes, toys, and appliances while they rebuild.

For questions on other ways to lend a helping hand, contact stephensonrelief@gmail.com.

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