Two separate lightning strikes sent Columbus firefighters rushing to two different neighborhoods almost simultaneously early Tuesday morning.

The most significant damage occurred at 4:52 a.m. behind a home south of Rocky Ford Road, about a block east of Washington Street, Columbus Fire Inspector Matt Noblitt said.

Upon their arrival, firefighters saw flames coming from a large storage shed owned by Doug and Rhonda Sweeney, Noblitt said.

While the fire at 3447 Rost St. was quickly brought under control, Noblitt estimated damage at $10,000.

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The other incident took place six miles away, when that lightning strike near Terrace Lake on the city’s far west side was reported two minutes before the shed fire, Noblitt said.

When lightning struck a tree outside 4236 Reese Lane, electricity in the roots came in contact with a gas main, Noblitt said. After entering the gas line through a small pin hole, the electricity made its way into the home and caused a pilot light inside a water heater to flash, the fire inspector said.

Although firefighters did periodic checks for gas in adjacent houses, the fire was stopped just as soon as the main valve was shut off, Noblitt said.

Since it was a neighbor that reported the lightning strike, Noblitt said he didn’t know the names of the residents. County property records list the owners as Abou-Rayan Sherif and Elma Advic.

Damage to the water heater was estimated at $700, Noblitt said, but repairs to the gas main may be more expensive.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5636.