Lightning strikes rattle Ashland

Like many people residing on the south end of the Bear Creek drainage, Troy Ferguson was entranced by the dozens of lightning strikes pounding the surrounding hills Wednesday evening.

"It was a hellacious storm," Ferguson said. "It was a fantastic thunder and lightning show. We lost count of all the strikes, but we had a good vantage point for watching Grizzly Peak."

One even struck at nearby North Mountain Park.

Moments later, some time around 10 o'clock, a bolt smashed into his Williamson Way property.

"It felt like a bomb went off in our house," said the former Marine, who was in the house with his fiancée, Jodie Kollanda. "We don't know if it was a direct hit to the house or traveled in from the front of the house."

What was clear, however, was the water line was busted, the air conditioner failed, pilot lights to the fireplace and water heater were snuffed, the television and cable were fried. A light switch cover was blown off and several switches put out of commission.

"We do have some electricity," Ferguson said Thursday morning.

At that point, he was waiting for a plumber to reconnect the water line.

"It exploded the PVC pipe," he said. "We could see the water boiling out of the water main and running down the street. It probably took about an hour to get it turned off. I can't wait to see the bill with the new water restrictions in place; hopefully the city will work with us."

The light switch cover disintegrated as it blew off the wall, with some pieces yet to be found.

"I was standing right in front of it before it happened and Jodie was 3 feet from it," Ferguson said.

The scorched wall and hot-metal smell remained along with a hint of ozone.

"We didn't call the fire department right away," Ferguson said. "We were more concerned because the pilot lights were knocked out and called Avista first."

The strike was one of four to which Ashland Fire & Rescue responded during the night. Lightning set off the fire alarm at Emeritus Senior Living, 548 N. Main St. A residence on Ashland Loop Road sustained electrical damage. The exterior of a house on Terra Avenue was scorched, but showed no signs of smoke or fire damage.

Ferguson's neighbor, Dee Anne Everson, said her niece visiting from Arizona was on her telephone in the bedroom when the enormous thunderclap hit.

"She came out with the widest eyes I've ever seen," said Everson, whose electricity flickered but remained on.

Everson took cupcakes over to her neighbors the next morning.

"I'm just thankful they weren't hurt," she said.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or Follow him at, friend him on Facebook and read his blog at Edge.

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