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Lightning rips apart 80-foot tree on Lopez; sparks small fire on Turtleback

An electrical storm in the early morning hours of Friday the 13th delivered a devastating blow to a 80-foot tall Douglas Fir on Lopez Island, as the impact from a bolt of lightning split its trunk and knock numerous limbs off the tree.   - Contributed photo
An electrical storm in the early morning hours of Friday the 13th delivered a devastating blow to a 80-foot tall Douglas Fir on Lopez Island, as the impact from a bolt of lightning split its trunk and knock numerous limbs off the tree.
— image credit: Contributed photo

While thunder and lightning pummeled the skies over San Juan Island, the electrical storm that lumbered through the islands early Friday morning touched down on the east side of Lopez with destructive force.

Longtime Journal weather correspondent Jack Giard said that a bolt of lightning struck a Douglas Fir that stands about 400 feet away from his Bakerview Road with such force that it ripped the 80-foot tall tree in half, and sent shards of wood, some as much as 10 feet in length, flying in all directions, shortly after 3:30 a.m.

"It absolutely almost vaporized it," Giard said of the impact. "It looks like someone blew it up."

A massive thunder clap followed moments later, he said.

"It made the 4th of July fireworks in Friday Harbor and Lopez sound like a firecracker," he said.

Giard said the storm had no impact on the home's electrical supply, but that it apparently disrupted telephone lines in the area, which were still inoperable as of mid-morning Thursday.

On San Juan, Lt. Chief Brad Creesy of San Juan Island Fire Department said the department had received no report of damage from the electrical storm, as of mid-morning Friday.

On Orcas Island, a lightning strike is believed to have caused a small blaze on Turtleback Mountain. Firefighters responded to report of smoke on the east side of Turtleback shortly after 4 a.m. and reportedly discovered a small smoldering fire in the area.

No homes were threatened by the fire and a crew was expected to be on scene shortly after dawn.

 

 

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