Lake couple counts blessings after lightning damages home

Contributed by Judy Fish

When Laker Teddy Gagnon returned home an hour early from work June 14, he was just in time to save his home from burning to the ground. 

When he arrived at his Jefferson Drive home, he found it full of smoke. Inside he discovered his home in shambles—all of the pictures and wall hangings had flown off the walls, doors of cabinets and appliances were hanging open and glass was everywhere. The chimney had also exploded, scattering pieces down the street. Neighbors told them the sound of the explosion was deafening.  

On that Tuesday afternoon sometime around 3 p.m., severe thunderstorms with massive lightning bolts struck Teddy and Eileen Gagnon’s Lake Monticello home, causing the large explosion. The couple were both at work, but their two lab-mix dogs, Art and Bernie, were at home. 

Eileen Gagnon said the couple’s dogs were kenneled in the lower level on the other side of the house and were rescued. 

“This lightning caused devastating damage to their home, including electrical and fire, according to the GoFundMe Page set up for the couple. The full extent of the damages is unknown.  “We are still waiting on an insurance adjuster,” Eileen Gagnon said.

Despite the damage to their home, she still counted her blessings. “Thank God the dogs were crated on the lower level and that no one was injured,” she said. 

She is also grateful that her husband was called into work an hour early on that fateful day, which brought him home an hour early from his carpenter’s job where he is currently working on the University of Virginia Library renovation. 

“Teddy arrived home just in time to save the house before it burned down to the ground,” she said. “Thank God we weren’t in the house. I have never seen anything like this. It blew lightbulbs right out of the lamps and all my pictures off the walls.” 

“You may recognize Eileen’s warm, smiling face from Jefferson Pharmacy,” Kelly Oliver said on the GoFundMe page she set up for the Gagnons. Oliver, who is one of the owners of Jefferson Pharmacy, said that the Gagnons moved to the Lake last year from Ohio to be near their son and his family. The couple are currently staying with their son. 

“Just this morning she was telling us at work just how excited she was that they finished their final project and now all of the renovations were complete,” Oliver said. “To say Eileen is devastated is an understatement.”  

“Fire trucks from Lake Monticello, Palmyra, Fork Union and Kents Store responded to the scene, and we appreciate their efforts in assisting,” Oliver said. 

“We need to show them how strong this community truly is! Please help in whatever way you can,” Oliver wrote on the GoFundMe page ( “On behalf of Teddy & Eileen and the entire Jefferson Pharmacy Family, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support!!”

Eileen seconded that appreciation. 

“I want to thank everyone for everything they have done, especially the fire departments,” she said. “I am just overwhelmed right now.” 

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