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Brampton, Ont., homes destroyed by lightning

The Canadian Press
July 27, 2012 — Five homes in Brampton, Ont., destroyed by lightning strike.

18 people have been displaced
18 people have been displaced

Five homes were destroyed in Brampton, Ont., after one of them was struck by lightning in a storm Wednesday night.

The lightning hit a townhouse on Spadina Road, near Bovaird Drive West and McLaughlin Road, around 11:20 p.m. Wednesday. The roof caught fire and the fire spread to four adjoining homes.

A spokeswoman for the city said the fire spread from the roof into the wires within the walls of the first home, which made it spread faster.

The fire caused $1 million in damages.

It took about 50 firefighters four hours to put out the flames, but three of the homes were completely gutted, and the other two are also mostly destroyed.

There were no injuries reported, but 18 people are now homeless. City officials said all five families have insurance, and they all have a place to stay.

The extensive damage seen in Brampton is rare
The extensive damage seen in Brampton is rare

The extensive damage is due to a higher-than-normal percentage of positive lightning strikes during the storm, said a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada.

Positive strikes are stronger and carry more of a charge, and so they're more likely to cause damage on the ground, said Geoff Coulson.

There were 748 lightning flashes Wednesday night within 50 km of the CN Tower in downtown Toronto, and about 14 per cent of those were positive, he said. Normally, just five per cent of lightning strikes are positive.

Because of that, Coulson said such damage as was seen in Brampton is rare.

"But every year we've seen it," he said. "Some of these storms can occur anywhere in the province."

The storm caused headaches in Toronto early Thursday morning as well. Two GO trains were unable to run due to flooding on the Richmond Hill line near Rosedale before 6 a.m. The flooding cleared about an hour later, but two of the four morning rush hour trains from Richmond Hill had to be suspended, said Malon Edwards, a spokesman with GO Transit.

The storm brought some of the only rain the Greater Toronto Area has seen this month.

July's average at Pearson International Airport is 74.4 millimetres, and this month's recorded rainfall is now about 60 millimetres.

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