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Lightning strikes injure man, ignite fire

Incidents came during holiday downpour
Posted at 5:18 PM, Jul 05, 2019

GWYNN OAK, Md. — The deafening sound amidst a downpour on Flannery Lane in Gwynn Oak left everyone guessing.

"It was like a big 'boom', and I thought it was in my room," said Vera Harrison, who felt her house shake to its very foundation, "At first, I thought it was an earthquake, but it was like a big, loud booming noise so I wasn't sure what it was."

When firefighters arrived, they discovered lightning had struck an antenna on the roof of the house across the street, igniting a fire and forcing the people inside to evacuate.

The flames and smoke caused extensive damage and claimed the life of the family's cat.

"That could happen to anyone, so my heart goes out to them,” said Harrison. “When I get a chance, when I see them, I'm going to ask if there's anything I can do to help them."

Just an hour earlier, yet another bolt of lightning struck a tree in Patapsco Valley State Park.

A man who had been standing close to the tree was caught in its electrical field and absorbed some of the blast, which sent him flying from the trail he had been walking on down a steep embankment.

Emergency responders had to use all-terrain vehicles to reach him in the heavily wooded area near Woodstock.

"It took some time. He was quite a way off the road or parking area,” said Lt. Travis Francis of the Baltimore County Fire Department. “When they did locate him, he had serious injuries, but he was conscious and able to walk."

Experts say an indirect strike like that is similar to standing next to an explosion.

The unidentified victim was transported to the Shock Trauma Center.