Early-morning thunderstorm rumbles through Ridgecrest, waking up residents, causing fires and setting off car alarms throughout town.
By Mike Bodine
The storm that hit the Indian Wells Valley Sunday night and lasted into Monday morning closed some roads, downed some power lines, and lightning even hit a Kern County Fire Department station.
Captain Bill Jacobs of Engine 77 in Ridgecrest said the station was hit this morning. He said the crew was awake due to the lightning, but still groggy, when lightning hit the station. He said he thought the station was under attack.
“It was like a bomb going off,” Jacobs said. “It was loudest, brightest thing I've ever witnessed.”
He said the jolt shot electricity arcing out of electrical outlets.
He said the blast brought electronics down, but they were getting back on line and the station is operational. Jacobs said nothing will slow down the “great white trucks.”
There are also reports that a bolt hit a police radio tower, but the Ridgecrest Police Department were not available for comment.
A Southern Californian Edison representative said there were an estimated 4,000 customers without power. Crews have been working overnight to restore power to remaining customers.
On the road, motorists were slowed down by flooding and debris on many local roadways.
Brown Road from Highway 395 to the intersection with China Lake Boulevard had a small stream advisory issued on Sunday night, was closed at 8 a.m. Monday and remains closed until further notice. Additionally, Garlock Road/Redrock Randsburg Road from Highway 395 to State Route 14 is closed due to flooding.
A California Highway Patrol unit and deputy were slowing down cars headed east on State Route 178 at the turnoff to the Bureau of Land Management wild horse and burro corrals. Debris, much of it green and lumpy, had slid down from the corrals and onto the roadway. The debris on the roadway was not thick but incredibly slick and slimy.
Kern County Fire Station 73 of Inyokern said it responded to a few calls. One being downed lines on the 100 block of W. Wilson Avenue that were arcing into some trees and a lightning strike to a transformer at the Inyokern Substation. The power was off at 4:30 a.m. SCE crews were on the scene and had electricity back to residents by 7:30 a.m.
Jacobs added that it had been a busy two days, responding to multiple tree and small lot fires, including some palm trees, and many downed power lines, all caused by lightning. He added that lightning was the biggest culprit and said “flooding was not an issue.”