Bang, flash, crackle: Monday's fire at a Katrina damaged house

By Brad Kessie - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Mother Nature played another cruel joke on a Gulfport family.  If you were watching WLOX News at Five on Monday, you saw live pictures of smoke billowing out of a house on 2nd Street. It turns out that smoke came from a lightning strike.

It was the second time weather cause significant damage to the two story brick home.  The first time was during Hurricane Katrina.  Flood waters demolished just about everything on the home's first floor.  Monday's fire did the same thing.

"I've never seen anything happen so fast," said Beth Gagliano.

She was at home with her husband and her daughter when a storm rolled in, and smoke suddenly drifted down their staircase.

"There was just a big bang. There was a white flash.  There was a little bit of a crackle," remembered John Gagliano.

His wife described the spark by saying, "It sounded like a bomb going off."

That bomb was a bolt of lightning ripping a hole through the family's roof.  On Tuesday, 14-year-old Sarah Ellen Klumb gave WLOX News a tour of the damage.

"It hit over in that direction," she said.

Gulfport fire teams rushed to the 2nd Street property late Monday afternoon and contained the raging inferno.  Eighteen hours later, water and soot still covered much of the house's interior.

"It looks like it was painted with black liquid.  All my stuff is ruined," Klumb said.

It wasn't the first time she said that.

"It's just like Katrina all over again," she mumbled.

During Katrina, seven feet of water drenched family possessions.  Monday's fire sparked memories that Beth Gagliano thought were behind her.

"You start thinking about it," the homeowner said.  She pointed to her hands and said, "I'm starting that Katrina shake."

After Katrina, friends provided support for Gagliano and her neighbors.  Those same friends where there once again after the fire, to lend a helping hand.

"We have a bond.  We've all been through Katrina.  We've all lost everything," Beth Gagliano said.

On either side of Gagliano's suddenly charred home are signs of recovery from Mother Nature's 2005 visit.  She'll use those signs of hope to do the only thing she knows how to do -- rebuild what she lost in Monday's fire.

"Just thank God that you're okay and alive and everybody's in one piece," she thought.  "You make a little lemonade, and pick up your boots and keep going."

The family has contents insurance.  So any furniture that was damaged by the fire will be replaced.

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