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House fire, fallen trees, power outages reported around Omaha area as thunderstorms roll through

Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 10:20 AM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Friday morning’s thunderstorms brought some rain and a bit of chaos to parts of the Omaha-metro.

Firefighters were called to the scene of a house fire after lightning hit the side of a house near Walnut Creek Lake in Papillion at about 10:45 a.m.

“Every time there’s a thunderstorm that rolls through, we expect we’re going to get some lightning strikes on houses, but most of the time it might cause a bit of electrical damage,” Papillion Fire Chief Bill Bowes said.

Officials said fire crews thought the strike may have traveled down a gas line as every level of the house caught fire, starting in the basement.

“It’s unusual for lightning to hit a house, and even more unusual for lightning to start a fire in a house,” Bowes said. “But then for lightning to start a fire using the gas line is even more of an unusual circumstance.”

The residents were displaced but had family in the area they could stay with, officials said.

Omaha Public Power District was reporting about 4,300 customers were without power in Douglas and Sarpy counties at 9:45 a.m. That number was up to about 4,800 shortly after 10 a.m. By 10:30 a.m., area outages were affecting 2,853 customers. At noon, there were 1,456 still without power.

OPPD said in a 10:50 a.m. update that power was expected to be restored at 2 p.m. in areas around West Dodge, Poppleton, 84th and 93rd streets. By 3:30 p.m., only about 160 customers were without power in the Omaha-metro area.

At 9:45 a.m., Sarpy County authorities reported a fallen tree was blocking both east- and westbound lanes on Harrison Street at 38th Street.

On its way through, the storm also kicked up winds, snapping a branch off a tree in a north Omaha neighborhood that landed on Nicole McClain’s house.

“I was just getting home from the store this morning, and I noticed this tree fell down on my house, but I still have power,” she said. “And thank God it didn’t break through and come inside.”

A Council Bluffs neighborhood was also dealing with a water-main break reported north of Avenue G on 35th Street, but it not clear whether the issue was related to the storm.

Nemaha County officials said quarter-sized hail fell there late Friday morning as the storm pushed south of the Omaha-metro area.

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