COVINGTON, La. - Lightning damaged a Covington lakeside home Friday night forcing firefighters to make a dramatic rescue of four chihuahuas who were inside.
The fire erupted in the Lake Ramsey Subdivision, according to St. Tammany Fire District Chief Terry Stuard.
Fire crews showed up to the 14000 block of South Lakeshore Drive late Friday afternoon to find flames and smoke billowing into the air.
"When our first unit arrived it had 15 feet flames going through the roof," said Stuard.
Eyewitnesses Nicole MacRae and Carla Lebreton shared dramatic cell phone video with WWL-TV. It shows the scene which stopped cars and drew neighbors into the street.
"I drove past and it was coming out of the house and it was awful," said neighbor, Belle MacRae.
"The thunderstorm kicked out of nowhere and a giant lightning bolt scared myself, my wife, and about 45 minutes after that I walked outside and saw smoke, neighbors were gathering," said neighbor Ken Schallenberg.
He was relieved that his neighbors weren't home but did worry about the four dogs trapped inside.
"The owners had told me to try and get the dogs out. I brought them over here to where the master bedroom was and the dogs were back here in the bathroom and they broke the window," said Schallenberg.
"One of our guys climbed through the window to get the dogs and got a bite on his finger but he'll be alright. All the dogs are safe and sound," said Chief Stuard.
Four engines and one rescue unit helped put out the fire. As the fire department checked for hot spots on Friday night, the chihuahuas were reunited with a family grateful their beloved pets are okay but they are forced to cope with unexpected tragedy.
"It is sad. All the neighborhood is talking about how quickly it can happen to any of us," said Schallenberg.
St. Tammany Parish fire officials confirm preliminary signs point to a lighting strike causing the house fire.