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Lightning suspected of causing Northwest Side house fire

Homeowner: 'I saw a flash of light in my eye and a loud snap"

SAN ANTONIO – Firefighters say lightning is the likely culprit in a house fire that displaced a Northwest Side family Saturday night.

San Antonio Fire Department crews were called out to the home at around 5:45 p.m. and arrived to find "a significant amount" of black smoke coming from the attic. The homeowners described a flash and loud bang minutes before they discovered smoke in the attic.

"I saw a flash of light in my eye and a loud snap — a loud crack," said Ginger Teruel, who was working on a sewing machine at the time. "And the lights went out."

Something else, however, apparently went up. Teruel said the family started smelling smoke, and her husband, Mike Teruel, went to the attic to check

"That's where I saw smoke coming from the roofline," he said.

The couple, their adult daughter, their two grandchildren and two dogs got out safely.

Aside from a hole in the roof and the nearly-destroyed chimney, there were few visible signs of fire from outside.

Battalion Chief Thomas McNulty said the damage was mostly contained to the attic, although there was a "fair amount" of water damage from the hoses and also the rain. He said they suspect a lightning strike sparked the fire.

"Just the sum of the circumstances," McNulty said. "We do see some damage there to the chimney. So that's one of the places we're going to start looking."

While the Teruels and their family are safe, they were also left temporarily homeless.

"We can't stay in there because, if nothing else, the smoke is just going to be overwhelming," Mike Teruel said.

As her husband tried to get in touch with their insurance company, Ginger Teruel said church friends, neighbors and family had offered them places to stay.

She said she's grateful God is taking care of their family and grateful to Him that they're all ok.

"Well I'm also grateful that He's provided fire trucks too and the firemen," she said, laughing.

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