At least half a dozen house fires sparked by lightning; increased interest in lightning protection

OMAHA. Neb. - Since mid May, lightning has zapped at least a half-dozen homes causing tremendous property damage to homes. 

According to the 3 News Now Weather Alert team, each year in Nebraska, there are more than 700,000 lightning strikes. In Iowa, there are about 680,000 strikes. Each strike will typically hit whatever the highest landmark is, whether it's a house or a tree.

The recent string of lightning-related house fires is prompting an interest in lighting protection systems.

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The lightning rod system and piping provides a safe path, guiding the lightning to the ground.

Lightning protection systems bond to the gas lines to prevent perforation from lightning hits. 

Tyler Baumert with AC Lightning Protection says, "important things with a lightning protection system is that you have to make sure all three services are bonded in there. It's tied to the water, the gas, and the electrical."

Systems like these are popular in lightning prone states such as Florida and Texas. They typically cost between $2,000-4,000 dollars.  

"It's the only force of nature for affordable protection, they don't make tornado rods yet," says Baumert." I've seen it (lightning) turn mirrors into a sheet of glass. I've seen it blow nails out of studs." 

"A lot of times when we talk about lightning, a lot of people don't realize a storm may not be sitting on top of you but lightning can actually travel about 3 to 5 miles away from a thunderstorm," said 3 News Now Weather Alert Meteorologist Jennifer Zeppelin. "So, you may have blue skies above you, but lightning can travel miles away from where a storm is located."

Experts also say to validate lightning protection companies before hiring. Always have the system inspected by a third party. 

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