MAPLEWOOD, Minn. - Most people whose homes fall victim to a storm's fire just chalk up the loss to bad luck.
That happened to David Wright in June, when the dream home he and his wife lived in for just eight months in Maplewood went up in flames.
"This is where lightning struck the house," David explained on Friday, pointing at the side of the garage.
Since the fire, David has done research and worked with his insurance agency on a theory that is likely to be determined as the true cause of the blaze.
David had corrugated stainless steel tubing as his gas line coming from the outside into the house.
Since 1989, new homes are often built with CSST because it's cheaper and more flexible than traditional steel and just makes more sense if it is installed correctly.
Because often it isn't, fire departments across the country have issued warnings.
"There have been many cases across the country of houses hit by lightning and this gas line has been leaking as a result," Steve Zaccard of the St. Paul Fire Department told KARE 11.
In a warning to consumers, the State Fire Marshall's Office said this earlier in the spring.
"With severe weather season in full swing, fire officials want Minnesotans with homes built after 1989 to check for corrugated stainless steel tubing -- a flexible pipe that, if not properly installed, can be damaged by nearby lightning strikes and start a fire."
CSST usually has a yellow exterior plastic coating and should not be confused with natural gas appliance flexible connectors. CSST typically is routed beneath, through or alongside floor joists in the basement, inside interior wall cavities and on top of ceiling joists in attics.
Minnesota Department of Public Safety State Fire Marshal Division investigators have discovered the tubing in southeast Minnesota and say it is likely in homes statewide.
The SFMD is spreading the word about CSST after discovering several cases nationwide where a nearby lightning strike created a power surge that damaged the gas tubing and caused a fire.
If you find CSST after inspecting your home or business, you should contact a licensed electrician to determine if the tubing is properly installed. As of 2010, about six million homes in the United States had CSST.
In David Wright's case, he says his tubing literally had a hole in it caused by the heat of the lightning.
That hole sent gas into the air immediately and within five minutes David's home was in flames. People could see the fire from dozens of blocks away.
Once he looked into the issue, he found out his story wasn't all that unique.
"There are hundreds and hundreds of examples of lighting burning holes through this stainless steel pipe," Wright said.
So why did David come back to the home of his dreams that is now a shell of them? To provide a cautionary tale and a warning to others to get their homes checked out.
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