ORCHARD PARK, NY - Fire, believed to have been sparked by a lightning strike, destroyed a home at 95 Stoughton Lane late Monday morning.
According to neighbors and one fire official, the home is owned by former Buffalo Bills Offensive Lineman Jason Peters.
Neighbors tell WGRZ-TV that while they had observed people staying at the home from time to time, they had noticed Peters there on only a few occasions since he left the Bills to join the Philadelphia Eagles a couple of seasons back via free agency.
Officials say no one was home when the blaze broke out shortly after 10:30 am.
At that time, a violent thunderstorm was passing through the area, according to Cindy Lawacki, whose home was not far away from the scene of the fire. She first noticed the fire when she went to move her car inside upon hearing reports of large hail in the area.
"I had just texted someone that it was like a monsoon...our power was going on and off, we had unplugged the computers at the house so nothing would get fried, and the sky was black, with major lightning... pretty scary stuff," Lawacki told 2 On Your Side.
Joey Ables, who lives across the street from the home that burned, had just arrived home with his father when he heard the bolt that struck the house.
"It didn't sound like regular lightning...you heard kind of like a crack.... I looked up and I saw the fire (which) was just a little fire when we first saw it, then it just started going up in flames everywhere," Ables said.
Firefighters had to contend with the adverse weather, particularly lightning, which at one time forced some of their ranks from their perch on top an aerial ladder truck.
"We pulled them down for their safety," confirmed Orchard Park Fire District Chief Dan Neavreth Jr. "The attack wasn't compromised, it's just that you don't have bodies up there with eyes to see what's going on. The guys on the ground continued, and we attempted to do some interior fire fighting but it got to dangerous with the roof caving in," Neavreth said.
Neavreth said he believed the home would be declared a total loss.
Late in the afternoon, after an emergency enclosure team boarded up the windows of the house, employees of a local dry cleaners were seen loading a van with clothing, including what appeared to be several Buffalo Bills uniforms.
Neighbors say before Peters lived in the home, it was owned by ex-Bill London Fletcher.
Click on the video player to watch our report from 2 On Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Norm Fisher.
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