WOOLMARKET, MS (WLOX) - Lightning is being blamed for sparking a house fire in Woolmarket early Monday morning that left a a family of three scrambling to escape with their lives.
The fire was so intense, it could be felt and heard hundreds of feet away. The two story home was consumed by flames in a matter of minutes.
Homeowner James Brown tried to fight it, but it was just too dangerous.
"I took the fire extinguisher and ran up into the attic, but it was in a bad position and I didn't feel safe trying to fight the fire in the attic. I didn't have an escape route, so I just dropped it and evacuated the house and we called 911," Brown recalled.
Firefighters did their best, working to the point of exhaustion, but the flames grew and spread quickly.
"The attic area was on fire. We started on the second floor where most of the fire was. We were chasing the fire throughout the attic, between the floors," Harrison County Fire Chief Pat Sullivan said. "It was an extremely hot fire and it's well involved, so we're doing everything we can to try and do it safely and not get anybody hurt."
The Brown family watched in disbelief as their home burned, the blaze consuming a lifetime of memories in seconds.
Despite the tragedy in Woolmarket, despite the loss of the home and the loss of the possessions inside, relatives of the family that lived there are thankful for one very important thing.
"They're safe and they are out of the house, the dog is out, and everybody is safe which makes me happy," said Jerry Fullam, who is the father and father-in-law of the Browns. "You can't replace life, so they're okay."
The family also knows it could have been worse, because they were just starting to stir when the lightning struck.
"If this had would have happened at two in the morning, we all may have just rolled over and gone back to bed, and not thought anything about it until the smoke detectors started going off, which was way later," Brown said.
About two dozen firefighters from Harrison County, the city of Biloxi, and the Combat Readiness Training Center helped battle the blaze, which took about two hours to bring under control.
The family does have insurance and hopes to rebuild.