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Two Spokane Valley homes catch fire in 4 hours during thunderstorm

Lightning struck a tree in the Ponderosa neighborhood on Tuesday night before a garage at one of the homes caught fire.

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. — Fire crews saw a surge in brush and structure fires in the Spokane area on Tuesday night as a severe thunderstorms battered the area. 

Two homes caught fire within four hours in Spokane Valley, according to fire officials. 

Fire crews responded to a house fire in the 10300 block of East 44th Avenue close to 10 p.m. on Tuesday. 

A neighbor in the Ponderosa neighborhood reported hearing a loud boom and saw a fire in the garage of a neighbor's home. Fire officials said the neighbor called 911 to report the fire and told the occupant of the home to evacuate.

Crews remained on scene to battle the fire until about 1 a.m. on Wednesday. Avista was called to shut off the electricity and natural gas. 

Fire officials said no one was injured in the fire. 

The loud boom reported by a caller was caused by lightning striking a tree, fire officials said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation but the lightning strike cannot be ruled out as the cause. Fire officials say there were signs of an electrical event that need further investigation.

A lightning count map shows 3,499 strikes around eastern Washington and 28,630 cloud flashes in 24 hours, according to the National Weather Service. 

Early Wednesday morning, Spokane Valley firefighters responded to another house fire in the 8500 block of East Cataldo Avenue. 

The homeowner went to a neighbor's house and asked him to call 911 because his house was on fire, officials said. The caller said the homeowner was trying to put out a fire in his attic. 

Fire officials said there was a downed power line in the area caused by a tree that fell during the storm. Electrical wiring within the attic was damaged and caused the fire. 

Firefighting efforts were initially hampered due to the downed power line. Several holes were cut in the roof so crews could ensure that the fire was extinguished.

No injuries were reported during the fire. 

Fire officials reminded residents to call 911 and stay out of the area if they see downed power lines or a lightning strike near their home. Downed power lines should always be treated as if they are energized. 

RELATED: Thunderstorms batter the Inland Northwest on Tuesday

Other fires within Spokane city limits 

Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said city fire crews were slammed on Tuesday night, responding to a variety of calls from structure fires and downed trees and power lines. 

He added that crews responded to more than 20 fires at the same time within the same jurisdiction on Tuesday night. 

Crews were prepared for the weather and had a plan in place, Schaeffer added. 

A downed power line fell on a garage and sparked a fire at Division Street and Garland Avenue. The fire then spread to two homes and damaged them to varying degrees. 

Crews quickly knocked down the fire and no injuries were reported. 

An evergreen bush caught fire in the Browne's Addition neighborhood on Tuesday night and the flames were whipped around by wind.

A power line downed by a tree may have sparked the fire, a neighbor told KREM photojournalist Al Lozano. 

RELATED: Good Samaritan moves tree off road during thunderstorm

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