Windsor·Photos

LaSalle family 'in limbo' after lightning strike destroys home

Domenic Prestia and his family were applying the finishing touches to their LaSalle home before a weekend lightning storm destroyed almost everything.

Take a look at the damage in the photo gallery below

Much of the Prestia family's home, including the bathroom, is covered in sludge after lightning struck down Saturday afternoon. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

It was a Saturday afternoon like any other for the Prestia family.

Domenic Prestia was working his regular shift at Chrysler's Windsor Assembly Plant. Meanwhile, his wife, Angela, and daughter, Diva, had stepped out of the house for some back-to-school shopping.

Just before 5:30 p.m., Prestia received a shocking phone call from his neighbour.

"He said my house was on fire. I didn't really believe him," said Prestia, noting his neighbour called him a second time to assure him it wasn't a joke.

This is what's left of Diva Prestia's bedroom after a lightning storm destroyed most of her family's home. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

The house on Skinner Street had been struck by lightning, he said. A vent near the roof's peak was hit, setting the attic ablaze, according to fire offcials.

Prestia left work early and rushed home to assess the damage. He could only describe what he saw as "a big mess."

"Tons of water was dumped in. The roof was opened to get the fire out. Drywall is down all the way to the basement floor."

'Sparks were flying,' neighbour says

Paul Bresolin, who lives next door, was barbecuing outside "about 40 feet away" from where the lightning struck. He said that when he observed "sparks flying," he immediately called Prestia and then police.

"It's sad. I feel bad for everybody involved ... You don't like to see this." he said.

Bresolin's daughter, 15-year-old Robin, was in her bedroom at the time of the incident. She said she opened her window seconds before the lightning struck.

Paul Bresolin, left, was barbecuing outside when he heard a crack of lightning strike his next-door neighbour's home. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

"It just went bright white," she said.

LaSalle Fire and Rescue put the blaze out on Saturday but needed to return the next day to extinguish a second fire that erupted Sunday.

"We don't know exactly [how the second fire started]. But according to the fire department, it looks like something might have still been smoldering. We don't know," Prestia said.

Renovations were almost finished

The damage from the two fires couldn't have come at a worse time for the Prestia family — not to suggest there's ever a good time for a house to catch fire twice.

Prestia said the basement, the only portion of the home which was unfinished, was nearing its final stages of completion prior to the incident.

"Our last step was putting the carpet in. Ceramic was done, drywall, everything was done down there except for the carpet," he said, adding he waited about "seven or eight years" to be able to afford finishing the basement.

Take a look at the damage in this photo gallery:

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      Family 'in limbo' as next steps remain unclear

      The family is currently staying with Prestia's mother-in-law before they figure out what to do next. He said his insurance company is trying to provide them with temporary housing.

      It's unclear if the house can be repaired or if it will need to be gutted from the inside.

      Prestia said the family will focus on retrieving any belongings they can salvage, while maintaining a positive outlook on the whole situation.

      "I'm definitely going to go buy some lottery tickets next because lightning might strike twice."

      About the Author

      Sanjay Maru is a reporter at CBC Windsor. Email him at sanjay.maru@cbc.ca.

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