Lightning in SWFL: House fire caused by possible strike; a teen struck on vacation; a mom advocates for safety

Reporter: Taylor Smith Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Greater Naples Fire Rescue District responded to a house fire in Golden Gate Estates Monday, July 19, 2021. Lightning is being investigated as the cause for the fire. Credit: Greater Naples Fire Rescue District.

A family got out of their home in Golden Gate Estates Monday after a fire ripped through their roof, and investigators are checking to see if lightning sparked it.

This comes just days after a Georgia teen vacationing on Marco Island was struck by lightning. A family we spoke to knows all too well about lightning strikes and works to educate others after their son was struck when he was younger.

Firefighters told us a big problem with fighting the house fire was no hydrants in the streets. They had to get water trucks out to the scene fast. Luckily, they were able to get it out, and the family was able to get out of the home safely.

Firefighters were also able to save a statue that had a deep spiritual meaning for the family. Their family, friends and neighbors cheered and clapped for them. They prayed around the statue near their car.

Firefighters told us lightning was in the area at the time of the fire, and they are investigating to see if that was the cause.

Walker Bethune. Credit: Shared with WINK News.

Friends of 17-year-old Walker Bethune told us he’s still in the hospital Monday after he was struck by lighting on Marco Island recently.

A mom and dad we spoke to know exactly what Bethune’s family is going through.

“It was kind of a bolt from the blue they call it, a rouge lightning event,” father William Moeller said. “There was nothing we could prepare for.”

Brayden Moeller was 12 years old when he was playing soccer with his dad and was struck by lightning.

“I heard the loudest noise I’ve ever heard in my life, and he got struck by lightning,” William explained.

“Almost two weeks he was in the ICU,” mother Cindy Moeller said. “He was on a ventilator at first.”

A man who helped Brayden’s father perform CPR on him helped save his life.

“We were told by the doctor, if it weren’t for the CPR, it would have been a totally different outcome,” Cindy said.

Now, Brayden’s family advocates for CPR training and lightning safety.

“Lightning safety is super important not to take for granted, you know, we all took it for granted before it happened to us,” Cindy said. “You know it seems we hear about it more and more.”

The Moeller family wanted the Bethune family to know they understand what they are experiencing together.

“We’re hopeful our story on how far he’s come is an inspiration to them,” Cindy said.

Friends and family of Bethune have him in their prayers Monday night as well.

“Walker’s personality is large. Everyone knows him; everyone loves him,” said Logan Bowlds, the head of school at Stratford Academy in Georgia. “He’s just got about every person praying for him in this community, thinking about him.”

We are told Bethune is in stable yet critical condition.

We asked about more lightning detectors on beaches here in Southwest Florida. A commissioner for Collier County told us they want to focus on lightning safety and education.

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