Lightning strikes Thomas County - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Lightning strikes Thomas County

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August 9, 2006

Thomas County-  Lightning is the most dangerous and frequently encountered weather hazard. The most dangerous type is cloud to ground lightning which jolted Thomas County Tuesday night.

Lightning can be beautiful to watch, but dangerous. Its power visible in this Thomas County Oak tree struck last night.

"It probably threw bark, probably 100 foot," said Donnie Baggett, Thomas County Safety Director.

That lightning sparked a fire in a nearby barn at the county's supply yard, burning 1,500 bales of hay and equipment.

"The backup asphalt spreader, is completely gone and we have a Flynn concrete spreader that we bought two years ago that's just totally lost," said Baggett.

Damage estimates are around $200,000. Several miles away, the Winterbottom's hope their damage is much less. Their home was also struck by lightning, melting insulation off outside wires.

"All of a sudden, the kids came out and said, 'Daddy, there's sparks coming out of the walls," said Matt Winterbottom, Homeowner.

They're not sure what's damaged because they have no power.

"They said some of the appliances could be gone, if not all, one or none, we don't know what to expect until we've got power," said Winterbottom.

Fire Chief Chris Jones says if you can hear thunder then you could be struck by lightning.

"It certainly can be dangerous, We've had some fatalities here in our county from lightning and from thunderstorms and we'd like for everyone to take those precautions," said Chief Chris Jones, Thomas County Fire,EMS Director.

He encourages everyone to take a lesson from last night and warns not seek shelter under a tree during a storm.

Twenty five million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes occur in the United States each year.

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