CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Smith family ran into the unexpected.
Their home was struck by lightning three months ago.
"It felt like a bomb went off," said homeowner Gwen Smith. The house shook. It was like one of those time stands still moments."
"Hey guys this is Gwen I'm just asking for your prayers because our house just got hit by lightning and it's on fire," Gwen said during a Facebook Live broadcast.
The family is still rebuilding their forever home.
"I never would have thought in a million years it would hit our house and that we would be out of our home for months and months," Gwen said.
Turns out lightning strikes are through the roof in North Carolina -- putting the Tar Heel State in the top-five for insurance claims among lightning damage -- more than 5,800 have been filed.
In 2016 -- investigators determined lightning sparked this fire at a Pineville strip mall. Twenty-year-old Richard Sheltra of the Pineville Volunteer Fire Department died that night -- in the line of duty -- from smoke inhalation.
It sent shockwaves through the entire state.
More than a year later, Sheltra's fire chief stressed the importance of preparing your home for giant bolts from the sky.
"You prepare for tests you prepare for all these other different things in life, why not prepare for something that might save your life?" said Pineville Fire Chief Michael Gerin.
Step One: Your smoke detector
"People don't think about their smoke detectors until the battery dies and it's 2 a.m. and they can't sleep," Gerin said.
Step Two: Have an escape plan
"The goal is to practice it as well," Gerin said "Yeah, know you talk about muscle memory you know your kids your family you're better prepared because you react without even thinking."
Step Three: Close your door while you sleep
Something outside of the box, but could save your life -- closing your door while you sleep.
"That's absolutely a big deal that people need to think of is closing your door at night because it slows the spread of fire and it buys you an enormous amount of time," Gerin said.
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