by Andru McCracken
A sweltering hot night ended with a bang.
In the early evening of June 20th, Valemount residents witnessed a lightning strike.
A powerful blast of lightning shattered the top of a wooden light pole on 4th Ave, west of Cedar St, sending a streetlight crashing down into a driveway and throwing wood splinters in a 40 foot radius. The covers on two neighbouring power boxes flew off, and some people lost power, phone and internet service. Many were still without Internet six days later.
Janelle McKirdy was opening a window at the time and initially thought it was something she’d done.
The head of the streetlamp ended up in Ann and Gerald Dyck’s driveway, just minutes after Ann pulled into her driveway.
“I’ll tell ya, it knocked me outta bed,” said Gerald. “We were just crawling into bed and, boom, everything just lit up.”
Debris from the pole was littered through their yard and on a neighbour’s roof.
“When I went to touch my meter, it was hot,” Gerald said. “The phone box beside has no lid and everything inside it is black.”
Gene Van Raes was watching TV with family when it happened, just two properties down from the strike.
“It was just a white light and such a loud boom … the whole trailer just shook. Everyone was looking at each other like, ‘What the heck happened?’”
He said as soon as the flash of light and boom was over, everyone went outside to see what happened.
“Everybody’s in their bras and shorts putting on a pretty good show!” said Van Raes.
He notes that the wood splinters could have been dangerous if people had been outside prior to the strike.
“If somebody had been out there, they would have been speared,” Van Raes said, noting some splinters had lodged into the ground.
“That’s the best thing about it – lightning hit and nobody got hurt. But it sure aged a few people.”