New Orleans, La. - A clap of thunder shook the building and 15 minutes later, police pounded on Arvette Williams' door.
"Police were knocking on the door saying, 'Get out of the building, get out of the building. Your house is on fire,'" she says. "At that time, I see the fire coming through the bathroom vent."
New Orleans firefighters say lightning sparked a fire at the Wind Run Apartments in New Orleans East.
Flames spread quickly through the attic and by the time Alan Marin saw his bathroom ceiling burning, he could only grab his dog and run.
"It's really sad to see your apartment go on fire and all your stuff in there catch on fire too," he says.
The whole building suffered heavy fire, smoke and water damage.
Thirteen of the 16 units were occupied, leaving more than a dozen families homeless.
James Ackerson watched as water poured out of his downstairs apartment.
"I left my cell phone and my wallet," he says. "I was working on my truck."
Seventy firefighters responded to the scene and it took them about 90 minutes to get the flames under control.
New Orleans Fire Superintendent Tim McConnell says he feared the worst when the call of a lightning strike went out.
"I hate to say this but when I heard it, I thought, I hope it's one of those abandoned apartment complexes and unfortunately it was not," he says.
Williams lost almost everything eight years ago and now has to start over once again.
"This is worse than Katrina because at least with Katrina, I was able to come back and get a spoon or whatever," she says. "This is the worst of my life."
The American Red Cross is assisting the affected families.
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