Large Fire Destroys Home; Lightning Likely Culprit [Updated]

A lightning strike is suspected of starting a large fire on Jane Chapman Drive in Wrightstown Township Saturday afternoon.


Saturday, 3:44 p.m.:

For more than two hours Saturday afternoon, firefighters from several local departments doused a home in the 100 block of Jane Chapman Drive in Wrightstown with water and foam.

The million dollar home was destroyed by a “fast moving” fire that was likely started by lightning struck the structure at around 12:30 p.m., according to Chester Pogonowski, an official with the Lingohocken Fire Company.

No one was injured in the fire. The family that lives in the home was on vacation at the time of the blaze, Pogonowski said.

The official cause of the fire remains under investigation, officials said.

A neighbor, who did not want his name published, told Patch he saw a lightning bolt hit the home and spotted smoke and flames coming from the roof area several minutes later. At the time of the first calls reporting the fire, heavy rain, thunder, lighting and small hail was reported in the Wrightstown area.

Pogonowski said the first arriving fire crews encountered flames shooting from the roof and attic area of the home and immediately went into service.

By 2 p.m., all three floors of the home appeared to be destroyed by fire. Crews on the ground and using ladder trucks were still working to quell hot spots.

The house, which sits in the recently built Chapman's Corner development, is not covered by public water lines, so firefighters drew water from a retaining pond in the development that was built to provide a water source for emergency crews.

Due to the high heat and humidity, extra medical and rehabilitation crews from Central Bucks Ambulance Squad, Tri-Hampton Rescue Squad and the Trevose Fire Company were called to the scene to provide relief from the heat for firefighters.

Firefighters from Northampton and Upper Makefield assisted Lingohocken crews fight the blaze.

Saturday, 2:47 p.m.:

Firefighters arrived to find heavy flames coming from the roof of a large home in the 100 block of Jane Chapman Drive in Wrightstown Saturday afternoon.

No injuries were reported in the fire, officials said. The homeowners are reportedly on their way home from vacation.

Neighbors reported seeing a lightning bolt hit the home at around 12:30 p.m. Just minutes later, heavy flames shot from the roof area.


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Kara Seymour July 30, 2012 at 11:48 AM
My thoughts go out to the family. I"m glad no one was hurt.
the REAL VOICE July 30, 2012 at 09:12 PM
One million dollar house no public water/sewer, drawing water from a retention basin, suppose it was dry ! And Toll bros. still has more of these to sell. I know where I would'nt put my money !
Tom Sofield July 30, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Firefighters said if the pond was dry they would have begun a tanker task force that would shuttled water to the firefighting apparatus on the site to extinguish the fire. Two tanker trucks from local companies were dispatched to the scene for backup. Luckily in this case, the retaining pond was filled and properly equipped with a dry hydrant.
Carol Boyle July 31, 2012 at 01:59 PM
I am so glad the family was not home and everyone was safe. My heart goes out to this family who made this house their home. Their loss is greater than the structure itself. It is the loss of photos, family heirlooms, personal items, etc that cannot be replaced. It seems crazy that this house was struck by lightening and went up like a matchbook! I've seem damage from lightening strikes, but nothing like this before. Isn't there supposed to be some flame retardant materials in new homes to stop the travel of fire?
Becky Betz July 31, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Sunday Toll Bros continued their "big sales event" with the sample home across the street from a house that burn throughout in less than 2 hrs. Hmmm... Maybe they should include lightning rods on those big behemoths...


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