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Daughter: 28 years of memories destroyed in house fire; lightning suspected as cause

NATCHEZ — For one Natchez family, 28 years of memories were destroyed in a flash of lightning.

Nichole Lefebvre helped her parents, E.J. and Bonnie Lefebvre, save what they could from a Wednesday morning fire that gutted their house on North Union Street.

The house, built in the late 1880s, was a one-of-a-kind house that Nichole said her parents lovingly restored.

The house was built on property once owned by the Catholic Church. After the church sold the property in 1888, the land was subdivided.

The historic residence was unique for its sloped roof, large cantilevered eave, shed dormer windows and front brackets.

The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

When her parents first bought the property, Nichole said trees were growing out of the house.

“My parents have worked so hard on that house,” Nichole said. “My mother had a vision for that house and her vision came true.”

Early Wednesday evening crews from the Natchez Fire Department responded to a call from a neighbor who reported seeing flames and smoke coming from the house. When firefighters arrived at the scene close to 3 a.m., the second floor of the house was fully involved.

“The fire investigators did their investigation,” Nichole said. “They say lightning hit the house — hit the electricity and part of the house exploded.”

Neighbors reported hearing large booms and a storm system was moving through the area at about the same time of the fire.

Nichole said thankfully no one was in the house at the time.

“My brother and dad were going to their hunting camp,” Nichole said.

Nichole said a neighbor who saw the flames was scared that her mother was inside the house and called her brother.

Bonnie Lefebvre said she would have stayed home by herself if not for the storms that were moving through the area.

“I would have been home, but I am scared of bad weather and was not staying there by myself,” Bonnie said. “They came and got me.”

Bonnie said looking at the damage to the house, she is so thankful that she was not in the house at the time of the fire.

“The one post of our bed that survived and another part of the bed are now in the foyer,” Bonnie said. “It’s a mess.”

Bonnie said she and her husband bought the property 28 years ago and spent several years restoring the house.

“We completely gutted it and rewired it. We completely re-plumbed it,” Bonnie said.

Nichole said she remembers the hard work that her parents, her brother and she put into reviving the house.

“We worked every weekend for the first couple of years,” Nichole said. “For the first winter we were living in rooms that had Visqueen walls.”

Nichole said she especially remembers the labor and love put into restoring the stairway inside the house.

“My mom and I brought those steps back to life,” Nichole said. “We had some of our closest talks on those steps.”

For now, Nichole said her parents are living with her in Plaquemine, Louisiana, as they wait on the insurance company to inspect the damage.