It happened around 11:49 a.m. in Wilmington, near Bradley Creek, according to the Wilmington Police Department.
“The two male victims were struck while trying to cut down trees,” police tweeted.
Authorities later identified the two men as homeowner Ralph Thomas Wallace, 77, and his friend, Moo Saw Kefauver, 42.
The lightning strike on Wednesday also damaged a house next door on Bradley Overlook Road, where a small fire in the attic broke out, the Port City Daily reported.
No injuries were reported with the blaze, according to the paper.
Wilmington Police said that the incident was a reminder that it’s not just hurricanes that can post a threat.
“An everyday thunderstorm can be deadly,” spokesperson Jessica Williams with the Wilmington Police Department told WECT-TV. “We also had a wreck on Carolina Beach Road today due to careless and reckless driving during a storm. We urge people to please be careful and not underestimate the weather.”
The deaths on Wednesday were the first lightning deaths in North Carolina since August 23, 2019, according to John Jensenius, a lightning safety specialist with the National Lightning Safety Council (NLSC).
The state of North Carolina ranks among the top 10 states with the greatest number of lightning fatalities.
Between 2010 to 2019, the Tarheel state had 12 deaths recorded.
Overall in the U.S., there have now been 12 lightning fatalities for 2020. Based on the past 10 years, the U.S typically averages 18 lightning deaths through August 5, according to Jensenius.
While most have listened to slogans such as “when thunder roars, go indoors,” there are still major misconceptions about lightning safety.
Jensenius told Fox News in June he’s found that people still believe lightning is still attracted toward metal and that people also misjudge their distance from approaching storms, thinking that the lightning rise may be much further away than it actually is.
“They are in danger as soon as they hear a distant rumble of thunder,” he said.
Some 2.7 million still remain without power.