Lightning strike blamed for house fire that destroyed DeLand home

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DeLAND, Fla. - A lightning strike is being blamed for a fire that destroyed a Volusia County family's home on Thursday.

The homeowner told Channel 9 he and his family lost everything in the time it took to run to the grocery store.

The fire broke out Thursday afternoon at the Carter Road home in DeLand, sending thick, black smoke and flames into the air.

Skywitness 9 HD was over the blaze before fire crews arrived.

Rebecca and Billy Lawrence bought the home for $13,000 in 1979. They said they're devastated by the total loss but relieved their dog Benny managed to escape.

"Thank God I wasn't home because I wouldn't be here today," said Rebecca Lawrence. "I wouldn't be here today I don't think."

"We have a doggie door and he must have come out as soon as the lightning hit," said Billy Lawrence. "It was very intense. I heard all the lightning."

Billy Lawrence was at work and his wife was doing errands when they were alerted by their neighbors, who also called 911.

"Thank God I have wonderful neighbors that checked everything," said Rebecca Lawrence.

The Lawrences say they won't be forced out by the fire. They plan to rebuild.

Fire officials said it appears the home was nearly destroyed inside and will most likely have to come down.