A lightning strike sends one family's house up in flames, but ne - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

A lightning strike sends one family's house up in flames, but neighbors are pitching in

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RICHLAND, WA - It was a bolt of lightning that struck a home in Richland during last night's storm, causing a fire and leaving a family of seven homeless.

Reporter Jaclyn Selesky went back to the home today to check out the damage and what's left of the home, and how the community is rallying to help the family out.

The unusual part about this massive fire is how it started - from one powerful lightning strike. Today, neighbors and community members are showing their support to the family who lost everything in a matter of minutes.

Crews were still on the scene this morning, cleaning up the aftermath of a lightning strike that set the house on fire.

It started off as a normal night...until a bolt of lightning struck their house, causing the power to flicker and setting the smoke alarm off. It wasn't until smoke started billowing through the air vents that they grabbed their pets and got out.

Jennifer Oliver lives nearby, and recalls realizing there was a fire nearby.

"I could smell it before I saw it," she said. "I smelled a little bit of burning and I started to get nervous, and then pretty soon our house was full of smoke too, from the neighborhood fire. And it was scary. I was praying and hoping that our neighbors were okay."

Neighbors have been stopping by all morning, dropping off bags of clothes, water and food, and doing anything they can to help.

Like Oliver, she told Jackie she doesn't know the family personally, but that's not stopping her from helping a neighbor in need.

"I had these new clothes in my car and I'm thinking, ''wow, my neighbor just lost everything she has, why not just give them to her."

There are only a few things the fire didn't destroy: trophies, random pieces of furniture and other items, but most importantly everyone in the family is unharmed and together.

"The community has to do what they can do help each other and everyone needs support in times like these," said Oliver. "I mean, lightning just hit her house, how scary is that?"

Firefighters say last night's rain during the storm helped, but they tell us in this case there were factors that made fighting the fire more difficult; by the time they arrived, the roof had collapsed, spreading the fire through the upper floors of the house. Strong winds were also a problem.

Right now, the family is staying with friends as they work to pick up the pieces left behind.

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