Sunday evening, weather forecasters alerted Chester County residents to the potential for severe thunderstorms, and the forecast was accurate. At about 1030pm, a fierce thunderstorm arrived from the west, bringing with it frequent and vivid lightning.
A lightning strike near a residence on Timber Jump Lane in Franklin Township knocked out the power, and created a burning smell. A 911 call alerted the West Grove Fire Company, which responded into very wet and windy storm conditions. With torrential rain falling, Engines 22-2 and 22-3, Ladder 22, Tanker 22 and the ambulance responded to the residence.
First arriving was Ladder 22, which was positioned in front of the residence. The new ladder truck features a very tight turning radius, allowing the operator to navigate the large truck into the narrow curved driveway. Crews performed a full 360 survey of the residence, and checked the attic area and basement for signs of a lightning strike. It was ultimately determined that lightning had struck a tree behind the residence, with an electrical surge coming up through the ground via the well pump, shorting out the circuit board (which created the burning smell, and tripped the house electrical service).
While not all lightning storms need a fire department response, any time there is a hit to a house, a burning smell, smoke or uncertainty, best to call for help. Thunderstorms bring all kinds of hazards with them -- wind, rain, floods, and lightning. Residents should always have an emergency weather radio available, and be monitoring when bad weather approaches. Weather "watches" are posted when forecasters determine that conditions are ripe for dangerous weather. When you hear a watch, begin your planning for a coming storm -- bring in or secure loose items outside (like lawn furniture or trashcans, etc.), and have a plan to take shelter. When "warnings" are issued, that means conditions are occurring in your immediate area -- follow weather service instructions to, for example, take shelter, or move indoors.
Here are some websites with valuable information:
http://www.weatherwizkids.com/weather-safety-thunderstorm.htm (great for kids)