LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (CNN) -- An elderly man and his granddaughter died after a bolt of lightning started a fire in a house in Louisville, Kentucky, on Thursday evening, officials said.
The lightning came from powerful storms that struck the area, causing auto accidents, flooding viaducts and stranding cars.
The 911 call from the people inside the house came in around 6:45 p.m., said Vince Luney, communications supervisor for EMA Metrosafe, a public safety agency.
The elderly man was bedridden and his granddaughter was trying to get him out of the house, said Gregory Frederick, the Louisville fire chief.
Storm rips roof off of hotel
Between them, the 30 firefighters on the scene got the two people out of the house, Frederick said. The man died of his injuries at the scene, he said, and the woman was declared dead at a Louisville hospital.
"Lightning struck an 80-foot-tall tree, hit about 40 feet up, and it entered a phone wire that came in through the rear of the house," Frederick said. Melted wire suggested the phone line had carried the lightning's charge into the basement of the house, he added.
Fire crews reported smoke in the basement upon arrival.
"The house is still standing. It's got pretty severe damage to the basement and the first floor," Frederick said. "It's an older, probably 1940s-era house, so the fire traveled (through) sealed spaces and moved into other areas of the house."
Severe thunderstorms that pushed through the area included winds that topped more than 60 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
The roof of Louisville's Crowne Plaza Hotel was partially torn off, sending debris onto vehicles in the parking lot below, officials said. No injuries were reported to EMA Metrosafe.
"We probably made somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 other runs" to deal with problems caused by the storm, Frederick said. A multitude of those requests came within 20 to 30 minutes, he added.