DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Three structures, including a massive horse stable at a world-class equestrian facility, caught on fire Thursday evening from possible lightning strikes.
Trees were downed, hail fell in many areas and flooding was reported on Thursday afternoon and evening as severe storms moved through the area.
A severe thunderstorm watch was issued for many areas of the Triangle late Thursday, including Wake, Durham and Orange counties. Strong storms producing 70 mph wind gusts, large hail and even isolated tornadoes were possible, in addition to heavy rain and frequent lightning.
A house that was reportedly hit by lighting in Durham and caught on fire early Thursday evening. Neighbors told WNCN that they heard a large boom from the lightning strike. Damage was mainly contained to the attic.
A 12,000 square foot horse barn at DK-USA Sporthorse also burned after it was reportedly hit by lightning just before 8:30 p.m. near New Leaf Lane and Mt. Herman Church Road, which is just west of Durham near the Eno River, officials told WNCN.
All the horses were evacuated safely in the three-alarm fire that had crews from Eno Fire, Orange County Rural Fire, Efland Fire, New Hope and Caldwell responding to the scene.
The fire was still smoking as of early Friday morning. DK-USA Sporthorse built a state-of-the-art equestrian center seven years ago and it was “pretty much a loss” from the fire, said Ole Strigel, owner of DK-USA Sporthorse.
Strigel said five horses were in the structure when the fire started and they were all evacuated safely. He says he plans to rebuild.
Earlier Thursday afternoon, an apartment fire was reportedly started by a bolt of lighting in west Durham around 6 p.m.
At 6:07 p.m. Doppler radar indicated thunderstorms that were continuously redeveloping across the warned area. Up to two inches of rain have already fallen and flash flooding is expected to begin shortly, the National Weather Service said.
A tree was down and blocking Lannie Road in Hillsborough, the weather service said. A tree was also down in a yard in the 3000 block of Burlington Road near Roxboro.
Around 8:20 p.m., golf-ball size hail was reported near Fordham Blvd. and E. Franklin Street in Chapel Hill.
Also, quarter-sized hail was reported at the Hillsborough BBQ Company for several minutes. Around 7:45, dime-sized hail was reported on Thetford Road in Durham. Quarter-sized hail was also reported around 7:15 along Triple Creek Drive in Efland.