Lightning strike's impact blows man across Renton living room

RENTON, Wash. -- To hear Robert Smith tell it, Friday the 13th was a lucky day.

It was the day his house exploded.

"The flames were shootin' out of the ceiling," he said. "I called (my family) up, told them the house blew up. I said, 'I'm okay, (the dog is) okay. The house blew up.'"

The explosion that took out his home on SE 104th Street in Renton didn't start as an explosion. It began with a thunderstorm - one of many - that rolled across Puget Sound Friday.

"(The thunder) was shaking the house - a couple of 'em were - and I was thinking to myself, 'That was pretty close to the house,'" Smith said.

Turns out, the thunder - the lightning - was closer than he originally thought.

"All the hair stood up on your body, you know?" he says. "'It's like 15 sticks of dynamite by your ear, you know, that blew up - and then you were across the room."

The 57-year-old was blown nearly 15 feet across the room when lightning struck his house late Friday morning. Smith, who does utility work for King County, was enjoying a day off, watching television, when he heard what sounded like a huge explosion.

"Lightning went through the whole house, all the sockets and everything," he said, sitting in his hospital bed. "Just a huge bomb, you know?"

Smith's dog, Savannah, also sailed across the room and landed on the floor next to him. Smith says he looked up, saw flames licking at the ceiling, and felt Savannah pushing him toward the door to escape. The two made it out safely.

Neighbors called 911. Firefighters attacked the house. Smith was taken to Valley Medical Center to be treated for smoke inhalation and minor injuries.

After being discharged from the emergency room around 5 p.m., Smith went to his mother's house to be reunited with his trusty companion.

"C'mon, baby girl!" he yelled to Savannah, a 3-year-old Australian shepherd/Labrador mix. "I think she helped me get out. She's a good girl."

To hear Robert Smith tell it, Friday the 13th was a lucky day.

"If I don't get nothing out of the house or anything out of the house I'm still lucky because I've got myself and my dog and my family so I'll be good," Smith said. "I feel very lucky."