Thunderstorm causes power outages, fire

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Lafayette County might not have seen a tornado during last night’s storm, but the severe thunderstorm caused power outages, downed trees and even a house fire.

The peak of the storm was between 8 and 9 p.m. According to Jimmy Allgood, Emergency Management Director for the city, there was some hail around Oxford and Lafayette County, but no tornadoes or funnel clouds, and no sirens went off due to rotation. Straight-line winds with gusts up to 30 miles per hour were reported, however.

Keith Hayward with Northeast Mississippi Electric Power Association said they had 1,500 outages at the peak of the storm, mainly due to a tree breaking one of their sub-transmission lines.

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“We had two broken three-phase poles in Denmark,” Hayward said at 8 this morning. “We had several more scattered outages but everyone should be on shortly.”

In Oxford, a downed tree limb on a line caused a power outage for 59 customers that lasted about an hour. There was an issue with a loop transformer on West Oxford Loop that temporarily affected three customers.

Lafayette County Emergency Management Coordinator Steve Quarles said the county received reports of five trees being down on County Roads 104, 403, 322, 101 and two on Highway 30 in the Philadelphia area.

Lightning was also prevalent last night, prompting both the Oxford Police Department and the Lafayette County Sheriff’s department to issue warnings for residents to stay inside via social media.

It struck a house in Yocona Ridge, setting it on fire and leaving a three-by-three-foot hole in the roof. Firefighters from the Lafayette County Fire Department were dispatched to the call at 9:54 p.m. According to firefighter Raleigh Sprouse, the home was saved because the homeowner acted quickly.

“The good thing was, if no one had been home, it could have been so much worse, but he homeowner was able to put out most of the fire with a fire extinguisher, so it was just smoldering by the time we got there,” Sprouse said. “We consider the overall damage to the home serious, but it’s still better than having the whole house burn down.”

Lightning strikes to a home can damage electrical systems and any appliances connected to electricity, as well as cause structural damage due to shock waves. Shock waves from lightning can damage concrete, brick and stone, as well as blowing out plaster walls and shattering glass.