lightning strikes four Farmington homes

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 12:35 PM

Loretta Park

FARMINGTON — Seeing a bolt of lightning strike one object is amazing — but four?

Spencer Evans was watching the thunderstorm from his covered deck around 3:30 p.m. Sunday. He lives just behind Eagle Bay Elementary School.

“I love thunder and lightning storms,” Evans said.

Then one bolt, followed by a crack, about 200 yards from his house caught his attention. A brown cloud rose above two houses on Ranch Road, and then he could smell an odor similar to a “power tool that’s overheated,” Evans said.

Evans asked his wife to call their neighbors to make sure they were OK.

Craig Darnell, who was at work, got a quick phone call from his wife.

“She said our house has been struck by lightning and it could be on fire, so I’m getting the kids out,” Darnell said.

Farmington Fire Chief Guido Smith had just pulled into Farmington when the 911 call came from dispatch saying not one, but possibly four houses may be on fire from lightning strikes.

Crews from several fire agencies were called to Ranch Road and Countryside Road.

“It was a massive storm cell that was moving over Farmington,” Smith said.

Smith said crews checked the four homes to make sure none had fire in the attics. The damage was minimal. In total, the lightning bolts caused about $2,000 worth of damage.

Randy Graham, science operations officer with the National Weather Service, said more than 40 lightning strikes were recorded in the 30 minutes the storm was over Farmington.

What was unusual about the lightning strikes was “a higher-than-normal percentage of them were positively charged lightning strikes, which are more likely to cause fires,” Graham said.

Graham said if the lightning strikes that hit the homes were positively charged, they stayed on the ground longer than a negatively charged lightning strike. But to have them hit four homes?

”That seems a bit unusual,” Graham said.

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