Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

By Mark Hebert

Lightning strikes


September 11, 2019

Barbara Heinlein

Malta resident and PCN Outdoor Columnist Parker Heinlein surveys the damage to a tree in his yard after a lightning strike last Wednesday morning.

Lightning strikes in Phillips County have caused their fair share of chaos over the past few weeks and strikes started a fire in Dodson and tore bark from a tree in Malta last Wednesday.

"I thought it hit the house," said Barbara Heinlein of Malta. "I've never heard anything that loud or that bright."

The early morning lightning strike that hit a tree on the Heinlein home - located near the Old Gym - tore bark from the tree and left PCN Outdoor Columnist Parker with a large strip of wood as a souvenir. The early morning blast also left at least one Malta City Councilman a little shook up.

"I nearly dropped my toothbrush when it hit," Councilman Jim Sintler, who lives a few blocks from the Heinlens, told the PCN.

While the Malta strike left the Heinleins with debris in their yard, it started a fire on the Anderson Ranch in North Dodson.

"We got a little bit of rain and a big lightning storm," said Caitlin Anderson. "We walked outside and Tanner (Anderson, her husband) could smell the fire. We posted it on Facebook and the Fire Department came right out."

Anderson, who was running her children to school in Malta, said she met eight fire trucks on her way back to the property. She said that fire was in a steep area and volunteer firefighters had to attack parts of the blaze on foot.

"We were lucky it was not windy," she added.

The fire on the Anderson property was the second of the summer as another fire, this one mostly south of Highway 2 on the families' property, was likely started by a spark and spread on the windy day in late July.

Coleen Costin.

A lightning strike caught bales of hay on fire at Saco's Costin Ranch on Sunday, August 26.

"In both fires, the Volunteer Fire Departments responded so quickly," Anderson said. "Both fires were contained really quickly. A huge shout-out to the fire department. They don't get paid for what they do and it is amazing that we live in a community where neighbors and volunteers are willing to come out and help people."

Saco wasn't spared from fires caused by lightning as on Sunday, August 25, the Costin family lost a total of 134 bales of hay after a strike hit their property early that morning. Coleen Costin said that Leroy Costin heard a strike hit at about 2 a.m., looked to see if it started a blaze, saw none, and went back to sleep. At around 7 a.m., David Costin let everyone know that the bales were on fire as everyone headed out to fight the blaze, getting it under control at about 1 p.m. after the fire apparently smolder all morning.


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