TEGA CAY -- A Sunday afternoon fire triggered by lightning gutted the roof and attic of a waterfront Tega Cay home once owned by NBA franchise owner George Shinn, officials said.
"That was a landmark house for Tega Cay," neighbor Linda O'Neal said about the three-story stucco house on Lake Wylie, at 7108 Anchorage Lane. Shinn lived there when he owned the Charlotte Hornets basketball team, which later moved to New Orleans.
No one was at home during Sunday's blaze; however, firefighters rescued a cat and hamster from the burning house, Flint Hill Assistant Fire Chief Randy McCurry said.
Some firefighters received minor burns from the fire but did not seek medical attention, he said.
The lightning strike happened during an early afternoon storm that downed some trees in the Fort Mill area and slowed traffic on Interstate 77, where a downpour forced some motorists to pull off the road.
Neighbor heard a bang
About 2 p.m. Sunday, O'Neal's husband, David, said he was looking at Lake Wylie from the back window of his home. "I was thinking about going out on the lake because it was really sunny out," he said.
David O'Neal said he turned from the window, then heard a loud bang that startled his dog.
"It was the loudest thing I've ever heard," he said. "When I turned around, I saw remnants of the lightning. I couldn't believe it was lightning because it was so sunny out."
O'Neal said he didn't think anything had happened until a fire truck sped by. Then, he went to his dock, where he saw the fire several houses away from his home.
"The whole top of the roof was just engulfed in flames," O'Neal said. "The flames were just shooting up. It was roaring.
"I couldn't believe it was burning so fast," he added. "The whole backside of the roof was on fire. The wind was pushing the fire and made it spread that much faster."
About 40 firefighters from the Tega Cay, Riverview and Flint Hill fire departments battled the blaze, McCurry said.
It was contained within an hour, though they battled hot spots as late as 8:45 p.m. Sunday, Tega Cay Fire Chief Scott Szymanski said.
Officials believe the fire was caused by lightning, he said.
"The home has a lot of damage," McCurry said. "The fire started up in the attic. It moved through the top floor structure."
No damage estimate was available Sunday, McCurry said.
The homeowners were on vacation in the Myrtle Beach area at the time of the blaze, neighbors said. York County tax records list the owners as Daniel and Leanne Mace.
Linda O'Neal soberly reflected on her neighbors' loss.
"This is their dream home," she said. "They had not been in there that long. They were so proud of it.
"It was the most glorious house on the lake," said O'Neal, who recalled that it became a well-known site when Shinn lived there. "It's just a shell of itself. Everything is gone."
Additional moisture in the atmosphere led to Sunday's scattered thunderstorms throughout York County, said Andrew Kimball from the National Weather Service.
During Sunday's downpour, a tree fell on a Fort Mill home, Kimball said, and several trees fell on power lines in the Fort Mill area.
More than 2 inches of rain fell in extreme eastern York County, including Fort Mill and the Catawba area, he said. Today's weather forecast calls for a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms in York County, he said.