Heavy storm: lightning throws families into the streets

Families from Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac in the Laurentians are finding new homes after narrowly escaping a powerful lightning strike that reduced their residence to ashes late Thursday afternoon.

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“It started to hail, so we took our daughters home from school,” says Cindy Marcil.


The home of Cindy Marcil, mother of five children aged between 9 and 22, was struck by lightning late in the afternoon on Thursday 16 June.  LAURENT LAVOIE/LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL/AGENCY QMI

Laurent Lavoie / JdeM

The home of Cindy Marcil, mother of five children aged between 9 and 22, was struck by lightning late in the afternoon on Thursday 16 June. LAURENT LAVOIE/LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL/AGENCY QMI

On her return, the mother of five children, aged 9 to 22, found her home engulfed in intense flames.

“I stopped my car in the middle and collapsed on the ground,” she says, before choking on emotion.

In his absence, lightning had struck his house, causing a violent fire that emitted imposing flames and black smoke.

About forty firefighters from several municipalities, including Deux-Montagnes and Boisbriand, were called to fight the fire.

According to extreme weather expert Patrick de Bellefeuille from MétéoMédia, the temperature of a lightning bolt is estimated at 30,000 degrees Celsius.

“It burns right away,” he says, snapping his fingers.

According to testimonies collected by The newspaperthe heat of the flames was so intense that the doorknobs of the surrounding houses became hot.

Three houses were also affected by the disaster, two of them very badly, as evidenced yesterday by the debris found outside after the roofs were destroyed.

Two families of four and seven and an elderly lady were thrown onto the street.

In extreme cases

The elder’s life may have been saved by Armand Côté, who lives across the street, in extreme cases.

He rushed to his door after hearing a loud “Boom!” had heard. and saw white smoke coming from the roof.


Armand Côté rushed to an elder's door after hearing a big

Laurent Lavoie / JdeM

Armand Côté rushed to an elder’s door after hearing a big “boom.” and saw white smoke rising from the roof of a house struck by lightning on Thursday, June 16. LAVOIE/THE MONTREAL JOURNAL/QMI AGENCY

“She didn’t know what was going on, she was listening to television, still surprising Mr Côté, who then filmed the fire for more than two minutes. By setting foot [à l’extérieur]it went “phew” and that’s when the fire had spread.”

“When [la dame] When she saw the smoke, the first thing she tried to do was save my dog,” adds Elizabeth McCarthy, daughter of Cindy Marcil, wiping away tears.


Little Méo, who has three legs and is 7 years old, died after lightning struck houses in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac on Thursday 16 June.  COURTESY OF ELIZABETH MCCARTHY

Courtesy of Elizabeth McCarthy

Little Méo, who has three legs and is 7 years old, died after lightning struck houses in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac on Thursday 16 June. COURTESY OF ELIZABETH MCCARTHY

Unfortunately, Méo, the seven-year-old three-legged puppy, died in the fire.

future to be determined

It is difficult to estimate what the Marcil family is expecting, who fear that the overpriced rents will make it difficult to find an apartment.

The mother explains that she volunteers and works part-time because she has to take care of her five children, some of whom suffer from coordination problems.

“We’re always good at helping others, but when it happens to us, we can’t help ourselves,” she jokes.

However, many citizens had already mobilized on social networks yesterday to offer help to the victims.

What you should know about lightning

  • In Canada, two to three people die from lightning every year;
  • 90% of these deaths occur in Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario;
  • The odds of being struck by lightning are less than one in a million;
  • The heat of lightning is estimated at 30,000 degrees Celsius;
  • Lightning can carry up to 100 million volts of electricity.

Sources: Environment Canada and Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety

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