First came a deafening bang and an unnerving rattle, followed moments later by the distinctive smell of smoke.

Two homeowners in the Fishers area described identical experiences today hours after lightning strikes peppered property throughout the region.

©John Tuohy / The Star
Michael Marcum, who lives in Fishers' Spyglass Falls neighborhood, examines a 5-by-5 foot hole today in his 15-year-old son's bedroom after firefighters extinguished a lightning-sparked fire at his home.

"There was this loud 'Boom', and then it felt like the whole house was energized." said Cliff Johnson, who owns a home on Red Wing Court in the Hamilton Proper complex in Geist. "The lights went out and me and my wife jumped out of bed."

Lightning struck the wooden roof of Johnson's two-story home at 1 a.m. and the fire it caused left dump-truck sized gashes in the roof. It was one of ten lightning strikes Fishers firefighters responded to between midnight and 2 a.m. today. Five strikes caused fires, with damage to Johnson's home the most extensive. No one was injured.

Johnson said he went to the circuit breaker to restore power before he knew the lightning had struck his home.

"I knew lightning hit something but I thought it was my basketball net or the big tree outside," he said.

But when he went outside to look, flames were licking the roof. "I stated yelling, 'Get out, the house is on fire'," said Johnson, a salesman.

Johnson safely helped his wife, Julie, and his sons Luke, 12, and Brantley, 10, out of the house, then started collecting valuables.

"I got my wallet and cell phone and briefcase," he said. "I brought out some appliances. I moved two cars from the garage."

All day long, as clean-up crews swept and crated debris away from the home, neighbors offered the Johnsons their homes as temporary refuge. But Johnson, who was forced to cancel a one-week vacation to Wisconsin and Chicago with his sons, said they would likely stay in a hotel.

Fishers Fire Capt. Ron Lipps said the department has battled 13 fires this year caused by lightning strikes. "It's been crazy this year, nuts, worse than any year I can remember," he said.

He didn't know the reason, however. "Some people say it is because of a lot of ore deposits in the area or the topography but I don't know if I buy that," Lipps said. "It might have something to do with the number of homes here, though."

Kim Loehr, a communications consultant for the Lightning Protection Institute, said though Indiana gets an above-average number of strikes, where the lightning hits is still random.

"It wants to get to the ground through the path of least resistance," she said.

Michael Marcum, of the Spyglass Falls neighborhood, stood in his 15-year-old son's bedroom examining the damage this afternoon.

The mattress was piled a foot deep in plaster, installation and wood that had been torn from the ceiling. Directly above the bed was a 5-by-5 foot hole where lightning had struck and a fire started.

"Alex was in bed watching television when the lightning hit," around 12:30 a.m., Marcum said. "I had just checked up on him 15 minutes before. "I heard a loud crash and a ringing noise."

An Indianapolis fire department firefighter who lives across the street saw sparks fly from the roof and ran to his neighbors' house to tell them it was on fire.

Lipps said the damage in the room was caused mostly by firefighters who fought the flames from the inside and that the roof did not collapse on Alex.