PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — A shed was considered a complete loss after being struck by lightning in Pensacola Tuesday morning.

How often does lightning strike a shed or home and how can you protect your shed during severe weather?

“According to a study from the U.S. Fire Administration, an estimated 17,400 fires happen each year due to lightning,” WKRG News 5 meteorologist Grant Skinner said. “Comparing this to the total number of lightning strikes that occur, it is rare; however, storms that move through Pensacola usually have very frequent lightning, so the possibility of these fires occurring may be a bit more likely there.”

At 11:14 a.m. on Tuesday, Escambia County Fire Rescue units E1, SQ3, E11, L12 and BC3 responded to a non-dwelling structure fire with building exposure on Addie Gant Lane. Upon arrival, ECFR crews found a 10′ x 20′ storage shed on fire with a mobile home nearby the flames. ECFR attacked the fire, bringing the situation under control by 11:32 a.m. Due to the proximity of the flames, the mobile home sustained minor damage. The shed, however, was a total loss. There were no injuries or fatalities, according to ECFR.

According to the United States Fire Administration, two-thirds of lightning fires occur from June to August, with 55 percent of lightning fires occurring outdoors and 41 percent occurring in structures. Roofs, sidewalls, framing and electrical wires are the areas most ignited by lightning fires.

There are four ways that lightning can enter a structure, according to the National Ag Safety Database:

  1. It can strike a metal object on the roof.
  2. It can strike a building directly (called a direct strike).
  3. It can strike a tree or silo near the building and jump to the building. This occurs when the building provides an easier path to the ground.
  4. It can strike a power line or a wire fence and follow the line or fence to the building.

“A properly designed lightning protection system safeguards vulnerable structures, equipment, and trees by providing an easy path to a ground, which harmlessly dispels the electrical charges,” It says in the database. “Protection should also be provided for objects located where a lightning strike’s current might sideflash, such as electrical wires or metal devices on building roofs.”

Skinner added that installing a lightning rod would be the best way to deter lightning from striking a shed or other building.

Assistance was provided to the Pensacola shed fire by Gulf Coast Fire TR34.

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