Columbus realtor has brush with lightning bolt

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  When Lynda Worthington, a local realtor, pulled up to A 17th Avenue home in Columbus to host an open house Sunday.she realized her timing could not have been better.

"I pulled up and there were flames coming out from the right corner of the house," she told News Leader 9.

Just moments before, a lightning bolt shot through a tree in the front yard, igniting the roof of the house located a block away from Lakebottom Park.

"The lightning was coming from the ground, went up the tree, arced over to the eave of the house which smoldered for a bit. We were blessed that it didn't get any worse," said Battalion Chief Les Talley of Columbus Fire and EMS.

"It was a miracle that there was not any more damage than there was. It was very minimal damage but the freak of nature of lightning. I'm just very thankful it was not worse than it was," Worthington added.

Rain wasn't falling when the bolt hit the house but officials say don't let that fool you into thinking your out of harm's way.

"Whenever we have summertime thunderstorms, lightning is always the biggest threat along with heavy rains and gusty winds that tends to be what we worry about the most because we have a lot of people outside during the summertime. Lightning can strike up to 20 miles away from a thunderstorm. It doesn't necessarily have to be raining where you are for you to see lightning. If you can hear thunder, you're close enough to be struck by lightning. In this particular instance, a lightning bolt, it doesn't matter how it starts whether it comes from the ground or a cloud, it can be as hot as the surface of the sun," explained WTVM Meteorologist Derek Kinkade.

"Had someone been at home or had there been a group of people she was showing the home to, they could have been walking around outside thinking the storm was far away and very easily been hit by lightning today. It's just one of those days where I'd say God was looking out for them," Talley said.

Columbus Fire and EMS officials are asking folks to stay indoors when thunderstorms roll through the area.

They also recommend that you stay out of from under trees during storms, off land lines phones and never underestimate the power of Mother Nature.

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