Wednesday, August 11, 2010

TOP STORY > >Departments respond to fires

Leader staff writer

A thunderstorm that rolled through Pulaski and Lonoke counties Tuesday afternoon averaged about 100 lightning strikes every four minutes and started at least two house fires.

CS and Z Fire Department responded to a house fire caused by a lightning strike off Poppy Lane, near Kerr Station Road, just outside Cabot.

South Bend, Ward, Cabot and Tri Community fire departments also sent tankers and firefighters to help battle the fire.

CS and Z Fire Chief Carl Stracener said when his department initially got the call around 3:30 p.m., dispatch said it was a grass fire, but when the two trucks of firefighters rolled up at the scene, it turned out to be a two-story home fully engulfed in flames and smoke.

“We couldn’t save it. It went fast,” he said. A couple lived in the home and wasn’t injured.

“The husband was sitting in a chair when the lightning struck, and the smoke caused him to get out in a hurry,” the chief explained.

Stracener said it looked like lightning hit the satellite dish and quickly followed the wiring all through the house.

At 7:30 p.m., the firefighters were still on the scene putting out hotspots.

Sherwood firefighters responded to three possible lightning strikes Tuesday afternoon but were able to confirm only one at 906 Dyson where damage was minimal.

Sean Clarke with the National Weather Service said the storm seemed to get worse as it moved northeast. It only dropped a trace of rain at Adams Field in Little Rock, 0.84 of an inch at North Little Rock (a new daily record for Aug. 10) and two to three inches in the Lonoke area.

He said the storm, at its peak, was producing 100 or more lightning strikes every four minutes. He said that count included cloud to cloud as well as cloud to ground hits.

The storms cooled off temperatures that were approaching triple digits. Area temperatures were 10 to 15 degrees cooler once the storm passed.