Fire chief: Lightning likely to blame for Franklin blaze

FRANKLIN, Mass. — Four people were forced from their North Park Street home early Thursday morning after lightning struck a chimney, according to Franklin firefighters and residents of the home.

Gerald Lawler said he was awake, but the strike woke the other three people living at the multi-family home around 3:45 a.m. Thursday.

“You could feel the whole house shake,” Lawler said.

Thirty minutes later, he got up again and smelled what he thought was rose incense, so he walked to the rear of the home and looked outside and saw smoke coming from the roof.

Everyone left and fire crews were called.

“The roof got compromised very quickly,” said Jim McLaughlin, chief of the Franklin Fire Department.

Engine companies from Plainville, Bellingham, and Wrentham also arrived on scene.

Crews checked inside to make sure there was no one inside.

“The on-duty battalion chief ordered all the crews out of the building,” said McLaughlin.

Fire crews were able to gain control of the fire fairly quickly but not before the roof collapsed and extensive damage was done by the fire and smoke to upper floors of the home.

“The fire is under investigation at this time, but it appears it’s a good possibility that this was a lightning strike,” McLaughlin said.

Franklin firefighters and the State Fire Marshal are still investigating the cause of the fire.

All four people in the home, their dog Gracie and a cat made it out of the home safely.

Sadly, the homeowner their other cat died in the fire.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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