Fire officials are warning of a possible danger in millions of homes. The warning comes after lightning struck a home in Blacklick and hit a small gas tube. Those tubes are found in homes across central Ohio.
"You could see the lightning bolts hitting," says Jeff Payette. Within seconds, he says, the initial crack of thunder sounded like a bomb going off." He says three bolts hit his home.
Payette and the fire department believe the lighting traveled across his gutter line, knocking out the water meter before hitting his gas meter, sending a bolt of electricity through a yellow gas tube known as CSST or corrugated stainless steel tubing.
"Absolutely I don't want this piping in my house", says Payette. He says Columbia Gas told him a hole in the gas line was caused by the volts from the lightning strike, which caused gas to fill his basement.
"As soon as I checked the basement, I heard the hissing noise and the smell was sickening", he says. His wife feared, had this happened while they were at work, their children may have walked into a home ready to explode.
"Had they opened the basement door and flipped a switch, we would have had a real tragedy on our hands", said Payette’s wife, Julie.
Concerns over CSST lines have been on the radar of local fire departments for years. After a series of lighting fires in Jefferson Township, the fire department sent out a flyer in 2011 warning homeowners about CSST lines "because of the thin wall thickness."
In 2009, 10 Investigates found nearly two dozen fires during thunderstorms were related to CSST lines.
As for the Payette's, they say every time it storms, they worry if their 7-year-old home is wired for danger. "We're terrified it's going to happen again. Yesterday, there was another storm that came in and we were running around unplugging everything because we were so scared the same thing was happen again, recalls Julie.
Both the city and state building codes say CSST gas lines are approved building materials.
However, the city says a lot of the problems it sees are lines that are bonded and grounded because those who installed them didn't get a city permit. The Payettes say their lines were installed by the home builder.
There are other products on the market that contractors say can offer better protection from lighting strikes.