Lightning blamed for Largo house fire

Aaron Mesmer reports

- A family spent Thursday trying to figure out what could be salvaged after a lightning strike caused a fire that destroyed their 6,000 square foot home.

The lightning struck during a storm the previous night while a mother and her young daughter were inside.

"It got hit by lightning in the back and [my wife] felt the whole house shake," said Anthony Competelli, who was on his way back from Orlando at the time.

Competelli said his wife didn't realize at first the house had caught fire and briefly went back to bed, but a short time later heard crackling.

He told FOX 13 his wife and daughter noticed the upstairs walls, which were filling with smoke and fire, begin to bow.

Lily Competelli, 12, described the frantic escape that followed.

"Me and my mom just ran out of the house, didn't really grab anything because we needed to get out of there as soon as possible," she said. "Very scary. Just watching your house burn into flames, it was really hard to watch."

Anthony Competelli was able to salvage a few items and some family photographs, but just about everything else is gone and firefighters believe the house, which now has a gaping hole in the roof, is a total loss.

But he said he's just glad his family is okay.

"They got out and 10 minutes later the house exploded," he said through tears. "It's terrible but my wife and my daughter are safe."

The family has received a lot of help from neighbors and is now dealing with the insurance company which, according to Competelli, was helpful after a recent flood.

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