LULING, LA (WVUE) - A Luling family is staying with neighbors after a lightning strike sparked a fire in their home, destroying it and killing their pets. Yet despite the tragedy, the family says they're grateful.
Homeowner Ricardo Moreno knows this story could've ended much differently. "Thank God we were just out. Everything just happened so quick and we're just happy to be well," Moreno said.
Cell phone video shows the flames that engulfed the house on Bernice Drive Sunday night during bad weather. Moreno explains, "It was really just lightning from what I understand. Struck the back of the house, pretty much just caught a flame from the back and climbed through the roof."
Neighbor Shelly Galtas recalls, "We were laying in our bed and we heard 'boom' and immediately we got up because we thought the pool pump exploded."
Galtas called 911 and waited for what she and other residents say was more than 30 minutes for firefighters to arrive. "It could've been stopped, had someone gotten here earlier," Galtas said.
People grabbed hoses in an effort to fight the flames as the family's three dogs and a cat were trapped inside. "It's heartbreaking," Galtas said.
The Morenos were visiting family in Morgan City when they received frantic calls telling them their home was on fire. They rushed back, then waited helplessly for hours. In the daylight, the family rummaged through the debris to see if anything could be salvaged. To their surprise, a handful of family photographs fell from the attic, untouched by the flames. "Everything else is charred, and a couple photos we got out of it, and we're happy with it," Ricardo Moreno said.
He's happy because he knows his wife and four kids are safe and because of the incredible support from Luling residents like Christy Cancienne.
Cancienne dropped off clothes to the family Monday afternoon. She's no stranger to tragedy. "We lost our 18-year-old daughter in the Luling Bridge accident, and before I could even comprehend what was going on, people were coming to our house and bringing frozen dinners and just anything that they could to help," Cancienne said.
Ricardo Moreno says he's grateful for the close-knit community in which he and his wife raised their kids. Slowly, they will pick up the pieces. Then, just like Christy Cancienne, they'll pay it forward.
Friends and relatives of the family set up a GoFundMe account to help with expenses.