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The homeowner woke up to a lightning strike nearby, as did a neighbor. A neighbor saw flames coming from the home and called for help. The neighbor also helped a woman and her dog get out of the burning house without injury, said Fire Chief Brent Weldon.
The roof collapsed and the house sustained “significant damage,” Weldon said. No firefighters were injured, he said.
Two homes in Eden Prairie also drew bolts of lightning shortly after 4 a.m., city officials said. One of them was half of a duplex that caught fire in the 10000 block of Leaping Deer Lane and was deemed a total loss, said city spokeswoman Katie Bengtson. The adjoining residence was unscathed.
A few minutes later, firefighters responded to lightning hitting a home on Riverview Road, Bengtson added. But by the time crews arrived, the homeowner had already doused the flames, which caused only minimal damage.
In the 4300 block of Chowen Avenue N. in Minneapolis, a massive tree crashed through the roof of the Nelsen home. John Nelsen, 45, was listening to the weather alerts when he felt the house shake at 3:45 a.m. He found the huge maple from his front lawn in the middle of the living room. His mother, Ann Nelsen, 75, slept through the crash.
Next-door neighbor Chris Larsen, 53, heard the crash and knew exactly what it was. A tree in his yard had fallen in a storm last year. But this time was a close call. The Nelsens’ tree fell just feet from his bedroom.
“I was sleeping right there, so if that had been another 15 feet, I don’t think I would have been having too good of a day,” Larsen said.
A fireman’s view
On-call Robbinsdale firefighter Chris Russell, 40, was clearing the debris on his street with his children and his neighbors after spending five hours responding to calls with city crews.
“We were driving from end to end for calls all over,” he said. “North, south, east and west were all about the same: lots of limbs down, a few trees down.”
A community clinic, NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center in north Minneapolis, called off appointments throughout the morning because of a lack of electricity, said Hennepin County spokeswoman Maria Elena Baca. The clinic’s generator kicked in and was preserving vaccines and other medication, Baca added.
Flash flooding on southbound I-35W just south of downtown Minneapolis may have led to an accident in which a vehicle slid under a tanker truck just after 5 a.m.
In Washington County, the sheriff’s office says it responded to several house fires and reports of trees down throughout the county. Damage was widespread, a dispatcher said.
Bill McAuliffe • 612-673-7646
Star Tribune staff writers Tim Harlow and Paul Walsh contributed to this report.