By Kristian Rasmussen
As rumbling thunder and bright flashes of light rang out through the valley, one local worker found out what it’s like to be struck by the static shock of lightning.
On July 3rd, heavy thunderstorms caused widespread power outages from Invermere to Brisco, knocking out power to 12,800 B.C. Hydro customers, when a lightening strike hit a transmission circuit.
RJ Tomazic, who works at Lake Auto in Invermere, was taking a break during the outage, leaning against a metal portion of the garage’s bay doors, when a bolt of lightning struck a pole on the building’s roof.
“Everything kind of illuminated purple and white,” he said. “One of the other guys saw me go completely rigid when it happened. My ears are still ringing, like badly, and my body still feels kind of tingly.”
When the bolt struck, the auto worker received a line mark down his arm where he contacted the metal part of the bay door.
“It scared the heck out of us,” he added. “We are all kind of staying inside now.”
The shop workers didn’t know at the time of the lightning strike if any of their machinery had been damaged.
Businesses up and down the valley were at a standstill during the outage, which lasted nearly two hours.
“We were dealing with outages affecting Radium, Athalmer, Invermere, Spillimacheen, Parson, Golden and Field,” said Diane Tammen, community relations manager for B.C. Hydro in the East Kootenays. “We basically had power shut down to the entire Columbia Valley.”
B.C. Hydro dispatched workers on the ground, with a helicopter patrolling the skies, to look for damages to transmission lines up and down the valley. After finding the area to be safe, B.C. Hydro turned the power back on.