A brief, but powerful, thunderstorm dumped inches of hail across much of Laramie County on Wednesday evening while lightning played whack-a-mole with area buildings.
“There were a lot of buildings struck by lightning,” said Cheyenne Fire Department Deputy Chief Andrew Dykshorn.
Between 6 and 7 p.m. Wednesday, 352 lightning strikes were recorded in Laramie County, the National Weather Service Reports.
For the most part, the lightning strikes were fairly benign and caused no damage, Dykshorn said.
“There were some fire alarms (tripped), but that’s pretty typical,” he said. “One house had some fuses tripped and a melted outlet.”
While the storm didn’t wreak any long-term havoc for most, a home about 14 miles north of Cheyenne in the 2300 block of Old Faithful Way was the 1-in-352 that wasn’t as fortunate.
Although it looks OK on the outside, a lightning strike at about 6:30 p.m. shot supercharged electricity through the house and into the basement, starting a fire, said Josh Kourajian, division chief for the Laramie County Fire Authority.
“They were sitting at the table eating dinner when the house was struck by lightning,” he said. “They said it was pretty loud, and they all exited the building and got out.”
Although nothing was showing from the outside when firefighters arrived at 6:52, upon entering the home they saw some fire and smoke, “and some fire in the floor that traveled into the basement,” Kourajian said. “There were a couple of obvious places (that showed) a lighting strike, about three or four places.”
Another homeowner nearby also reported on Facebook being hit by lightning and having damage to some electrical and other systems.
‘I Was Amazed’
Jean Battin lives about five houses down the road in the rural subdivision and said the storm dumped so much hail that it was piled inches deep Thursday morning.
She was home when the storm blew through, and said there was nothing subtle about the lightning strike that hit her neighbor’s house.
“It was just this big bang: ‘boom!’” she said, adding that she “was amazed” at the quick fire department response.
While the city of Cheyenne may see a lot of strikes because of the density of its buildings, out in the county a damaging strike isn’t as common, Kourajian said.
“That was the only call we responded to for a lightning strike yesterday,” he said. “We usually respond to a report of about five or six of them a year.”
Although the exterior of the home doesn’t appear to have suffered much, there was smoke damage and some fire damage inside, he said.
“We try to keep damage minimal,” he said. “We were able to save a lot of property — furniture and pictures that mean a lot to people — but there was damage to the basement and the main floor.”
He credits the residents home at the time for responding calmly for keeping the damage as minimal as it could be.
“They did everything they could on their end to respond,” he said, adding that with a lightning strike, there’s no real way to expect it. “That’s just something you can’t prevent.”
Contact Greg Johnson at Greg@CowboyStateDaily.com