CARTERET COUNTY -

A fire destroyed a Carteret County home Thursday during lightning and heavy rain.

The house is located on Cummings Creek Road off Merrimon Road, about 18 miles north of Beaufort.

(CLICK HERE: More photos of the fire.)

Fire officials have not confirmed that the blaze was definitely caused by a lightning strike. But according to the National Weather Service, there were numerous lightning strikes and heavy rain in the area during the time of the fire.

Neighbor George Taylor said the fire started near the home's porch. A passing mail carrier spotted the blaze and ran to a home to call 911.

"Smoking, and there were flames even after I got there, 45 minutes after it got started. There were still flames coming out of the roof," Taylor said.

Neighbors told NewsChannel 12 the homeowners were in Virginia to see their daughter when the fire happened.

"It was a gorgeous house. I'm sure they're going to be heartbroken when they get back from Virginia," said Taylor.

In all, at least three homes were potentially struck by lightning Thursday, said Carteret County officials.

*Photos courtesy of Carteret County Fire Marshal Eddie Lewis