Lightning from thunderstorms this week sparked at least two house fires in the state.

Lightning from a storm in the early hours of Friday morning struck a house on Marcia Street in Sayreville, police said.

Police said the homeowner heard the strike about 2:15 a.m. and got his family out of the house after smelling something burning.

A house on Breckenridge Drive in the Sicklerville section of Gloucester Township quickly became engulfed in flames after it was hit by lightning about 8:35 p.m. Wednesday, according to Gloucester Township police.  A couple and four children escaped.

Water and smoke damage have made the house temporarily uninhabitable, according to police.

A storm parked over parts of Middlesex, Monmouth, Somerset, and Mercer counties and poured 2-4 inches of rain, causing flash flooding that closed sections of Route 9 in Sayreville and Route 18 in East Brunswick, according to New Jersey 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow.

"The thunderstorms this week were quite electric, sparking an excessive amount of lightning. Why? It all comes down to humidity. The more moisture there is in the air, the more water droplets there are in a cloud," Zarrow said.

"The more droplets, the more collisions. The more collisions, the higher the static electricity buildup. And the higher the electrical charge, the more brilliant the lightning."

The side of a house in the Whiting section of Manchester was struck by lightning on July 2, igniting a fire that killed several pets.

"Lightning always searches for the easiest path from cloud to ground. Sometimes that easiest path is through a tree. Or a house. Or a person," Zarrow said. "And the saying 'lightning never strikes twice' is total baloney. Lightning is way more likely to hit the same tall, metal objects multiple times if that's the quickest path to ground."

The Empire State Building gets struck by lightning an average of 23 times a year.

"While lightning is not part of 'severe weather,' it is by definition a part of every thunderstorm. And therefore every thunderstorm is potentially dangerous. As they say, 'When thunder roars, head indoors,'" Zarrow said.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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