RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — Firefighters in KELOLAND are poised to respond to buildings being struck by lightning during severe weather. But firefighters in Rapid City didn’t have far to go when lightning struck over the weekend.
Sometime between 3 and 4 a.m. Sunday, as the Station 6 crew was monitoring the storm and responding to calls in the area, they experienced a bright flash with a simultaneous boom of thunder that shook the entire station.
“Immediately issues with the fire alarms system, with the telephone system. It also took out the back up generator for the station, the garage door opener for Engine 3-6, our type 3 wild land engine, that was affected. All of the GFCI outlets in the station were tripped,” Rapic City Fire Department Public Information Officer Jim Bussell said.
Ironically, the crew was in mid training for storm precautions such as, lightning.
“We had just been working on it the same week and with that we did learn that it isn’t always a direct strike that can cause damage, it can be secondary effects when lightning may strike nearby either a person or a structure or anything like that and be carried through the ground,” Station 6 Lieutenant Eric O’Connor said.
The building had no direct damage from the lightning strike and no one was injured.
“We were able to continue our normal response to calls within our area and then take care of our own station as well which was very helpful that our building is set up for some defense against lightning,” O’Connor said.
The Rapid City Fire Department asks everyone to remember, when thunder roars go indoors.
“I absolutely love our South Dakota weather, love watching storms from a distance but it really really is important when these storms approach, especially with this really wicked cloud to ground lightning to stay away from windows, stay away from doors and stay away from plugged in electronic devices,” Bussell said.
As of now, the Rapid City Fire Station is running as good as new except for a few minor repairs. Firefighters say the lightning strike will not affect how they respond to any emergency calls.