Lightning strikes Edgartown house
Helen Fischbeck was catching some shut-eye early Friday evening when she was awakened by a thunderous bang in her home in the Dodger's Hole subdivision. During the somewhat mild storm Friday, lightning managed to strike just below the roofline of Ms. Fischbeck's home, sending a plume of smoke into the air and frying several electrical devices.
"It was like a massive explosion," Ms. Fischbeck said Tuesday. "It felt like everything in my room lifted and moved."
By the time the initial shock wore off, Ms. Fischbeck said she went downstairs to make sure that her daughter and her boyfriend, and their two small children, were all right.
"He was fine," she said of her 10-month-old grandson. "They're oblivious at that level." But the three-year-old girl was more aware of the situation, she said, and was crouching under the kitchen table after the strike. "It was pretty frightening."
No one in the home was injured, and Edgartown fire officials were on the scene in minutes.
Lightning is a tricky phenomenon, and experts say there is little known reason why it strikes in a particular place. On Friday, the lightning bolt caused little structural damage to the Fischbeck house. There is no gaping hole in the roof or the eaves - often common with lightning strikes - and the contact point is barely visible from outside.
The arbitrary nature of the strike multiplied for Ms. Fischbeck when she noticed that the electricity went out in her bedroom on the second floor, but the downstairs remained illuminated. Furthermore, her garage door opener was working fine the day after the strike, but on Sunday the device was on the fritz.
"It targeted very strange things throughout the house," Ms. Fischbeck said. "But that's apparently the way these things work."
The lightning did shatter a two-by-four beam in the attic, shook up the electrical system and fried the phone line. Ms. Fischbeck was working off of a temporary phone this week, needed to replace a brand-new computer, and had an electrician survey the damage.
Ms. Fischbeck said her daughter's boyfriend called the fire department after he saw smoke coming from the attic, but the damage was so minimal they were able to sleep in the home that night.
"I'm very grateful to the fire department," she said. "It seemed like 3,000 people came because the medics came and the EMTs came also, because they need to be reassured that no one was injured."
Edgartown fire chief Peter Schemeth said crews responded to Ms. Fischbeck's home after a call reporting smoke coming from the attic. Due to the close proximity of Dodger's Hole to Oak Bluffs, they called for additional assistance from that neighboring own.
There was virtually no fire, but crews probed throughout the house to be sure everything was under control, Chief Schemeth said. Edgartown fire fighters also used a thermal imaging camera that peers into the walls - much like an x-ray - to make sure none of the internal wiring systems had caught fire. After a thorough inspection, Chief Schemeth and the wiring inspector cleared Ms. Fischbeck's home and judged it safe for reentry.
The last lightning strike in Edgartown was about three years ago, according to Chief Schemeth. "It doesn't happen that often, but like everything else, we could get several in row and then none at all."