Fall River Family recounts “terrifying” lightning strike

Carter MacDonald stands in the big hole that a lightning strike left in the backyard of his families Fall River home. The strike travelled through the ground, creating an explosion as it hit the chamber to their septic system and causing thousands of dollars in damages to items they own. The family counts themselves lucky it wasn’t any more serious. (Healey photo)

Strike leaves thousands in damages, but family counts themselves lucky

FALL RIVER: Carter MacDonald knows he won’t be taking thunder and lightning lightly anytime soon.

MacDonald and his family’s Celebration Drive home in Fall River suffered damage June 28 as a result of a lightning strike that was strong enough to shake their house and send rocks flying into the air. The weather had been overcast, but quickly became dark and changed as the storm moved in. It also started a fire in their electrical box.

Firefighters from nearby Station 45 Fall River, along with mutual aid from stations in Waverley, Sackville, and Wellington, were quickly dispatched to the scene. The responding units were stood down by Station 45 after they checked the scene and determined other units were not required.

Explaining where the Lightning hit and how it traveled.

With dad, Ryan, hindered from hip replacement surgery earlier in the week, and his mom with sister, Hailey, at Ash Lee Jefferson to get her report card, Carter had to help search the home to ensure there was no further signs of fire or damage.

“We saw a huge orange flash and a very loud bang,” recalled Carter. “The fire alarm went off immediately. You could smell smoke so we checked the house to see where or if there was fire.

“It was quite terrifying as the lightning is normally white, so the orange flash was very scary.”

Carter said there was no fire detected downstairs, and he didn’t see anything wrong. He told his father what he saw, so Ryan went down with cane in hand to check it out for himself. Carter went outside to see where it had hit the house.

Hailey and Carter MacDonald display some of the plug switches that were fried after a lightning strike hit in their backyard and travelled into the house causing thousands of dollars in damages. The family did have insurance. (Healey photo)

Outside, Carter walks down to Ground Zero where the lightning strike hit, leaving a gaping hole in the wooded area, surrounded by a lot of wood that could have caused more trouble for the MacDonalds and their neighbours had it not rained in the days prior.

The strike travelled up the hill, sending rocks up into the air, before it hit the top of the septic system. It was strong enough it created a bit of an explosion as the cover of the septic system went flying.

“Where it hit the tree and then hit the ground, I think it’s pretty freaky that it hit the chamber of the septic and blew the cover out into the woods,” said Ryan. “Hilchie’s said that the strike likely ignited the methane in the pump and blew it all up.”

Carter and Hailey both showed off three plugs that have visible fire damage on them from being hit by the lightning strike. They lost laptops, iPads, and blew all the breakers.

Ryan said the strike cost the family “a few thousand dollars” in damages, but they all realize it could have been much worse. The house could have been hit directly, it could have caught fire, they could have not been home, and as scary as it sounds, Carter could have still been having a shower as he had just a minute before the lightning strike hit.

Take lightning seriously, says Carter.

Carter said he used to not think of thunder and lightning storms as anything too serious. After his family’s brush with the result of a lightning strike, his attitude towards them has changed 360 degrees.

“We thought it was just something cool,” Carter said of how they felt before their close call. “We really didn’t take it seriously. It wasn’t a very scary thing until now. It was so scary.”

They all classify themselves as lucky.

“If that hit the deck it would have done a lot more damage,” said Carter.

Ryan agreed.

“You could see how powerful that strike was just hitting the ground,” he said. “Imagine what that would have done if it had hit a house?

“We got extremely lucky it hit where it did and didn’t hit the house. The house would have been on fire for sure.”

– Ryan MacDonald