By LYNETTE HAALAND
Four Points News
Just before 10 p.m. on Saturday night, Tatum Sapinoro and her daughter Jaedyn were sitting at the kitchen table listening to the storms outside when a lightning bolt struck their house.
There were two close, intense lightning strikes but it was the one closest to 10 p.m. that hit them.
“It sounded like a gunshot sound,” Tatum said. “But it was more than what we heard — you could feel it too.”
“It was like a big surge of energy you could feel,” Jaedyn said. “It was so unexpected.”
They lost power to half of the house.
Sapinoro’s husband, Ray, was out of town at a soccer tournament in Houston with their other two children. Jaedyn, 16, started to look around the house to see where the power was off, and then they smelled a burning smell.
“It was sort of like a campfire smell,” Tatum said, or similar to the smell of metal when it heats up. “There were no flames but we realized we needed to have it checked out.”
Tatum called 9-1-1 and a neighbor came over and helped check in the attic.
“I was surprised how fast the fire department got here,” Tatum said.
Lake Travis Fire Rescue firefighters detected embers behind the drywall in one of the bathrooms so they tore a hole through a portion of the wall.
“They said if we were not home, it would have turned into a fire,” Tatum said.
The LTFR officials said they have seen it before where a strike can turn into a fire hours later that will engulf a structure.
In addition to the Sapinoro’s house, Austin Fire Department officials said four other residences were struck by lightning on Saturday night including two on Big Thicket Drive in South Austin.
All incidents resulted in damage to electrical outlets or other damage, firefighters said. None caught fire due to the strikes.
Strong showers and thunderstorms were to blame as they moved through the area from the southwest with gusty, 40 mph winds and lightning, according to the National Weather Service.
For the Sapinoros, by midnight, it was all over and LTFR firefighters had left the scene.
Tatum discovered that the lightning likely damaged a window or two because they started leaking rainwater.
She is thankful for the protection of the circuit breaker box or she thinks her situation could have been much worse.
The emergency also reminded the Sapinoros what good neighbors they have.
“This shows how wonderful the neighborhood is. Everyone was checking in on us,” Tatum said. “You can tell they are really there for you.”