Two workers at the Spokane Interstate Fair were taken to Deaconess Medical Center after the ride they were setting up was struck by lightning Thursday.
Mike Barker and Robert Clark were released after treatment, a hospital nursing supervisor said.
“We called 911 right away,” said Treena Andersen, general manager of Rainier Shows.
The lightning was part of a storm that rolled through the Inland Northwest, turning skies gunmetal gray by midafternoon. Heavy rains moved with the storm.
Barker and Clark were working on the Zipper. After that scare, Andersen said, carnival employees stopped their work for the day.
“We didn’t want to take any more chances,” she said.
Two other fair employees also felt a lightning strike that hit a pole at the rodeo arena, said Paul Gillingham, fair manager. One of them complained of joint aches for an hour after the strike, he said. Neither was taken to a hospital.
A little more than an inch of rain had fallen by Thursday evening at Spokane International Airport. The record for a September day is 1.12 inches in 1974.
The moisture was the result of a low-pressure system that moved east over the Cascades and circulated through parts of Eastern Washington, North Idaho and western Montana, said Stan Savoy, a National Weather Service meteorologist. The system was forecast to break up today.
Thursday’s storm cooled temperatures throughout the region. The high in Spokane was 59 degrees, 16 degrees below the normal high for the day, Savoy said.
Today’s forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with low clouds and some fog in the morning and a high temperature of 73 degrees.
The weather is expected to clear up Saturday and should be sunny with a high near 76 degrees.
The area with the most lightning strikes Thursday evening was southwest of Coeur d’Alene, where 46 strikes were reported. Another 26 strikes were reported southwest of Spokane. A three-car garage in north Spokane was destroyed after lightning struck the roof and ignited the wood about 2 a.m. Thursday. That fire destroyed a car inside the garage at 6318 N. Stevens. Damage was estimated at $40,000, the Spokane Fire Department said.
A lightning strike at the new Spokane arena momentarily dimmed the building’s lights during an opening ceremony Thursday afternoon.
Lightning also struck a Post Falls trailer home Thursday evening, apparently triggering a blaze that gutted much of the structure.
Robin Jacobsen said she was pulling lawn chairs under a tree when the lightning lanced into the lower window casing of the trailer.
“It was scary,” she said. “But I didn’t hear anything. I was too busy trying to get my daughter inside.”
Firefighters pulled several wooden boxes marked “explosives” out of the home, but Post Falls fire district spokeswoman Ramona Baker said they contained only tools.
Despite the rain, flames billowed out the sides of the trailer, the heat shattering windows. Firefighters knocked the flames down quickly, but not before the trailer’s middle was blackened and smoldering.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo
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