NFL Star Earl Thomas's Texas House Destroyed in Fire Reportedly Sparked by Lightning Strike

·5-min read
Earl Thomas house fire
Earl Thomas house fire

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A lightening strike may have been the cause of a fire that destroyed the Orange, Texas home of Earl Thomas early Thursday evening, authorities said.

The NFL star, 33, was at home with two of his family members when the fire started according to Orange Fire Department Deputy Chief Payton Smith, who told FOX4 Beaumont that the blaze sparked around 5 p.m. local time.

Thomas was alerted to the trouble when he heard a loud "popping sound" resembling a lightening strike, Smith said to the outlet. He and his family then saw smoke stemming from the southeast corner of the house and quickly evacuated.

It wasn't long before the home became engulfed in flames. The residence lit up so fast that firefighters, upon arrival, had to go into "defense mode" to combat the intense flames/smoke and get the blaze under control, Chief Matt Manshack, of the Little Cypress Fire and Orange County ESD 3, told 12 News Now.

"We're unable to get it under control quickly," he told the outlet. "With the size of the structure the choice was made by them to go ahead and pull out and just go defensive with it."

No one was injured in the fire, KFDM reported. But Smith told FOX4 Beaumont that the home was at a "total loss," with half of the structure completely collapsing by the time firefighters were able to put it out.

It's the largest residential fire in terms of monetary damage in the city's history, Smith noted to FOX4 Beaumont.

Thomas spoke with firefighters upon their arrival but left with his family members as the flames raged on, Orange Fire Department Fire Marshal Randy Ener shared to 12 News Now. Officials told the outlet they believe one of the members with him was his mother.

They also said to the outlet that they are still investigating the cause of the fire, an have not yet ruled out a lightening strike. Recorded weather for that day, per Weather Underground, show lightening storms moved through the area around the same time the fire reportedly started.

PEOPLE reached out to Thomas, as well as both the Orange Fire Department Deputy and Little Cypress Fire and Orange County ESD 3, for comment.

The athlete, who grew up in Orange, has yet to speak out publicly about the incident. An investigation into the fire is ongoing, officials told 12 News Now.

CINCINNATI, OHIO - NOVEMBER 10: Earl Thomas III #29 of the Baltimore Ravens on the sideline during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on November 10, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - NOVEMBER 10: Earl Thomas III #29 of the Baltimore Ravens on the sideline during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on November 10, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images)

Silas Walker/Getty

Thomas is currently a free agent with the NFL, having been released from the Baltimore Ravens in 2020 after punching a teammate during an offseason practice. The Super Bowl champ and seven-time Pro Bowler played for the Seahawks from 2010-2018, and famously sad goodbye to the team by flipping off head coach Pete Carroll while being taken off the field due to a leg injury.

In April, Thomas told ESPN's Adam Schefter that he is "ready" to return to the NFL, adding, "I'm in shape. My timing is on point — I'm proud of that."

RELATED: Former NFL Player Earl Thomas Arrested for Violating Court Protective Order

But the following month, on May 13, Thomas was arrested in Orange for allegedly breaching a protective order, the Austin American-Statesmen reported. He had alleged sent threatening messages to a woman about her and her three children, two to more times within a 12 month period. That's considered a third-degree felony.

He was booked in jail but is out on a $15,000 bond, PEOPLE confirmed through public records at the time. The warrant for Thomas' arrest was made weeks prior on April 27 in Austin, where Thomas owns a home with his estranged wife.

Earl Thomas house fire
Earl Thomas house fire

king 5

Thomas' protective order was issued in May 2021 by a Travis County civil court judge, the Austin American-Statesmen reported. It allows Thomas to communicate with the woman only through a co-parenting phone application.

But the woman told police, per her affidavit obtained by the Austin American-Statesmen. that Thomas refused to download the application and contacted her via phone instead, showing up at places she visits unannounced.

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Police said that on April 18, Thomas allegedly told the woman he had two handguns before threatening her via texts, in which she claimed he said, "Waiting on hand in foot id why I'll kick your ass." The next day, he allegedly texted the woman, "I hope u in the car with him and the kids and y'all drive off the road," before threatening to "poison" her children.

The athlete's lawyer Trey Dolezal told the Austin American-Statesmen that Thomas and his wife "were consciously and collectively working together to see his kids," adding, "I don't really understand how he could be in violation by working together to visit with his children."

Earl Thomas
Earl Thomas

Michael Reaves/Getty Earl Thomas

RELATED: NFL's Earl Thomas Responds to Report that Wife Held Him at Gunpoint After He Allegedly Cheated

In May 2020, Thomas' wife, Nina Thomas, was arrested after allegedly holding the athlete at gunpoint. Court documents obtained by TMZ allegedly showed that Nina discovered that Earl, whom she married in 2016 —was with another woman via his Snapchat account.

As a result, she was charged with burglary of a habitation with the intent to commit aggravated assault with a deadly weapon — family violence. She was reportedly released on bond. Nina later filed for divorce in November of that year.