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How a man was struck by lightning indoors

Lightning strikes
DiMaggio | Kalish | Getty Images

Police investigators recently found the badly burned body of a man in his house, and concluded that he was killed by lightning — while still indoors.

Lightning can kill — about 30 Americans die from lightning strikes each year. But being struck indoors is exceedingly rare.

And yet this is what investigators concluded in a report published in the American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, and reported in Popular Science.

Investigators found the body of the deceased man in a house he was renovating after worried family contacted the local police.

His body was covered in severe burns, but there was no evidence of fire or any electrical problems that could have killed him.

Apparently the 53-year-old man was inside the house when the storm passed through the area. The building had exposed steel beams and the man was found surrounded by metal tools.

The team concluded that the lightning passed through the beams and the tools on the floor before traveling through the man's body.

The researchers are from the University of Genoa in Italy, but a summary of their study in the journal did not say where or when the lightning strike occurred. They did not immediately respond to CNBC requests for additional details.

People may believe they are safe once covered by a roof, but the National Weather Service does warn of the dangers of lightning even when indoor. It lists precautions to take during thunderstorms, such as staying away from corded phones and electronics (cellphones and remotes are OK), avoiding plumbing and staying out of contact with concrete walls and floors, which can contain metal bars.

Basically, modern homes are full of things that can conduct electricity, and lightning can even "jump" short distances through the air from one conductive surface to another.