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OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — Several small storms packed enough punch across the OKC metro Monday afternoon to keep the Oklahoma City Fire Department busy.

According to Battalion Chief Benny Fulkerson, fire crews were called to four different locations within about 40 minutes.

At 2:39 p.m. lightning hit a power pole at 9100 block SW. 44th and started a small grass fire.

At 2:46 p.m. residents called 911 to report lightning hitting a pole. When crews investigated they contacted OG&E.

At 3:18 p.m. Crews were called to the 3100 block NW. 46th where residents thought lighting had hit somewhere on their house. Firefighters detected a light odor of smoke often associated with a possible lightning strike, but found no damage.

At 3:21 p.m. firefighters responded to a call in the 2300 block NW. 47th. They found that a lightning strike had caused significant damage to a chimney. “Firefighters said parts of the chimney were out in the driveway,” said Fulkerson.

Lightning caution

Fulkerson told Free Press that storms generating a lot of cloud-to-ground electrical activity generally do create fire calls for the department.

“It’s not unusual,” he said. “There’s been a lot of times we’ve had four or five, maybe six house fires working because of lightning.”

Awareness of the deadly potential is important said Fulkerson. They remind people to get indoors immediately as soon as they hear lightning. He had two sayings that they use often in their presentations about the dangers of lightning.

“If you can hear it, then you can be hurt by it.”

And they often tell children in presentations, “when a thunder roars go indoors.”

Lightning kills

According to the National Weather Service (NWS) lightning kills on average 49 people per year nationwide and seriously injures hundreds more.

NWS reports that even those who survive a lightning strike can and some do suffer “lifelong neurological damage.”

Oklahoma has always been somewhere close to the top state for lightning activity.

But, some analysis is suggesting that Oklahoma could take over the top spot for lightning strikes from Florida who has long held the dire distinction.

At least we could be in a tie with Florida according to an April news report in the Washington Post.

Said the report: “In reality, Oklahoma and Florida are neck and neck — with 83.4 lightning flashes per square kilometer averaged over the past five years in Oklahoma, compared to 82.8 in Florida.”

Last Updated July 26, 2021, 5:22 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor