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Two Hudson homes damaged by fire after lightning strike

The Hudson Fire Department's aerial ladder is used to battle the fire at a Hunter Hill Road four-plex Saturday night. A lightning strike just before 10 p.m. started the blaze. Twin Cities Fire photo

Lightning is being blamed for a Saturday night fire that badly damaged two homes in Hudson.

Firefighters were called to a four-unit townhouse on Hunter Hill Road by a neighbor who, after seeing a flash of lightning followed by booming thunder, went outside to see if any damage had been done.

Sharon Tepper told a Hudson Fire Department investigator that she saw flames and smoke coming from the roof of Jerry and Georgia Adams' townhouse at 1520 Hunter Hill Road.

Tepper called 911 and proceeded to warn the residents of the four-plex to leave their townhouses. Three of the four units were occupied at the time.

Jerry Adams told the fire department that he and his wife were in bed when he was awakened by a loud bang shortly before 10 p.m. He opened his eyes to what appeared to be a big, red fireball in the bedroom, Adams reported.

He and his wife escaped the townhouse unharmed, and Adams was able to removed their car from the garage.

The townhouse at 1524 Hunter Hill Road, where former St. Paul Fire Chief Stephen Conroy resides, also was set ablaze by the lightning strike. Conroy's townhouse is on the east side of the Adams residence. He, too, evacuated the building unharmed.

The two northern townhouses in the four-plex weren't damaged the fire.

More than 60 firefighters spent more than four hours on the scene putting out the stubborn fire.

Hudson firefighters were assisted by the town of St. Joseph, Roberts-Warren and River Falls departments, as well as the Bayport and Lower St. Croix Valley departments from Minnesota.

United Fire of Baldwin and Woodville stood by at the Hudson station to respond to any other calls that came in during the event. Hudson firefighters were on the scene until 2:18 a.m. Sunday.

St. Croix EMS and River Falls EMS provided rehabilitation and medical service.

"It was difficult to get at. That was the reason for all the help," Hudson Fire Chief Jim Frye said firefighting effort.

For the second time a week, the Hudson department's aerial ladder engine was used to battle a house fire. Firefighters used the ladder to open the roof and fight the fire from above, as they did the previous Monday evening in battling a fire at the Jim and Connie Root house on Cudd Circle.

Frye estimated the combined damage to the two townhouse units at $300,000, plus $50,000 in damage to the contents of the homes.

He said the fire damage was limited mainly to the attics of the townhouses and attached garages, but there was smoke and water damage throughout the two-story homes.