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Lightning suspected in blaze that destroyed Rock Hill home

Firefighters from four departments responded to a blaze in rural Rock Hill that is believed to be have been caused by lightning during afternoon storms Monday.
Firefighters from four departments responded to a blaze in rural Rock Hill that is believed to be have been caused by lightning during afternoon storms Monday. tkulmala@heraldonline.com

Lightning is believed to be the cause of the fire that destroyed a Rock Hill-area home Monday afternoon, killing a family pet inside.

The blaze broke out around 3 p.m. at a home on Cuttawa Street near the Catawba Indian Reservation east of Rock Hill.

“We had that big storm blow through right at the same time,” Chief Tommy White of the Lesslie Volunteer Fire Department said. “A neighbor over here (across the street) said he heard it. When it hit, it shook his whole house.”

White said a postal worker saw the house begin smoking, and after calling 911 he even tried to find a water hose outside the house while firefighters were en route. Four departments responded to put out the blaze, including Lesslie, Oakdale Fire Department, Riverview Volunteer Fire Department and a tanker truck from Lancaster County.

Jeff Jernigan and his family live a street over from Cuttawa Street. He said he heard commotion at the home after what sounded like an explosion.

“Literally in seconds, the whole roof ... it was just billowing smoke out of the entire soffit,” he said.

No one was inside the home when the fire broke out. Owner Mona Rollins had gone to Lancaster when a neighbor called her.

“Somebody called me and said, ‘Mona, your house is on fire,’” she said as firefighters doused water on the charred remains of their home behind her. “I just hung up, and I flew home. I called my husband and my phone died. This is what I came home to.”

Sophie, the Rollinses’ 3-year-old Coton de Tulear, was inside the home at the time of the fire, Rollins said. Firefighters had not found the small dog Monday evening, and she was believed to have died.

“You would hold her and she would just get the rub-down,” Rollins said. “She was such a good dog. When you lose something like that, it’s pretty tough.”

Family members stood in the street comforting Rollins and her husband, Jim, who now have nothing but the clothes they were wearing Monday afternoon.

“You just don’t know how this is till it happens to you,” Rollins said. “There’s nothing you can do. You just have to sit here and watch it.

“That was all that mattered – my pictures and my dog,” she continued. “The other stuff can be replaced, you know?”

Teddy Kulmala: 803-329-4082, @teddy_kulmala

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