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Lightning gives woman a pain in the arm

Aug 5, 2014

By The Associated Press

ASHLAND — Terri Stephens intended to run outside, snatch the laundry from the line to get it out of the rain and then dash back inside. Then lightning struck.

“It was like a bomb went off,” she told the Ashland Daily Tidings for a story about a lightning barrage last week that touched off wildfires in southern Oregon and threw Stephens for a loop.

She was about 10 feet away from the pulse of lightning that struck a ponderosa pine in her backyard, she said.

The force blew her right arm off the laundry line and pulled her along five to six feet.

“My arm just felt like it was on fire. I thought I had blown my arm off,” Stephens said. “It thought it was going to be partially blown off or just all black.”

She ran. Behind her, curls of smoke hissed off the clothesline. A metal awning conducted the energy to the house. Her power went out, and the telephone line was damaged.

Stephens went to the hospital, where doctors said she had nerve and muscle damage. She's still in pain, elevating her arm and icing it, but is otherwise OK, she said.

There's no safe place outdoors in a thunderstorm, National Weather Service meteorologist Marc Spilde said. “That's one of our main mantras: When thunder roars, go indoors,” he said.

Other advice from the weather service for when you get inside: Stay off corded phones. Don't use a cellphone plugged into a charger. Avoid showering, hand-washing and dish-washing because strikes can be conducted through the pipes and water. Stay away from windows and doors, and keep off porches.

If that last piece of advice means missing a great show, Spilde said, so be it.


Information from: The Ashland Daily Tidings,

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