Friday, April 22, 2005

great ball of fire

I didn't check out the approaching weather report from my correspondent from Missouri -- see First Magnificent Storm of the Year.

Shelley's massive storm moved through Indy early this morning. Franklin the dog woke me up about 2:00 am and I let him get in the bed. He's not much for being afraid of storms, but the sounds were like cannons firing (and landing) all around us.

This is the kind of storm that usually takes out a tall tree or two in the townlet.

By 3:00 am, I was dozing back to sleep when lightening hit a power line that runs close along side our bedroom wall, down the boundary line between our yard and our neighbors. The line fell across our chain-link fence and landed in the neighbor's yard. This created a wall of light that flooded our bedroom at the same time that the lightening hit. I thought our house was on fire.

For the next few minutes, we ran through the house, gathering animals and checking to see what was happening.

The fire at the end of the power line continued unabated. It was a white round ball of light, creating a massive electric hum, embellished from time to time with explosive orange spurts of flame.

We called the neighbors to make sure that they were ok. One of them asked me to come help her. Her husband was out-of-town and she was holding her dogs together, watching the flame in her backyard. I could see hanging lines in the front yard. The storm and rain continued outside.

So I decided to drive my car around the corner to her house. But the electric door openers were dead, and I was not clear-headed enough to pull down the emergency release.

Meanwhile partner was on the phone with 9-1-1 while another neighbor called us to see if we were ok. I ran out into the storm with scenes of the Ang Lee movie, The Ice Storm, replaying in my head. By the time I got to her house, another neighbor had already gotten her and her dogs to his house.

The flames continued to glow and hum.

Down the street, I could see the fire trucks. As usual, they had reached the edge of the townlet and had stopped. The very haphazard and unAmerican layout of our simple interwar village stymies them. I've seen ambulances circle the townlet two or three times in the past before entering it.

I ran toward the trucks, got the driver's attention, and led them to the fire.

After making sure that they were aware that it was an electrical wire that was burning, I returned home, soaking wet. For almost an hour, the line burned. We watched from our back window, prepared to grab cats and dog if the house appeared in danger. The firemen were cautious and stayed out of the yard. And then all the power in the neighborhood was turned off and the fire ended.

From about 4:00 am to nearly 8:00 am, the linemen from IPL worked on replacing the downed line. As I left to go downtown this morning for a meeting, I noticed that smoke continued to bellow from out of the ground where the power line had landed.


lemming said...

Wow - glad that all are safe.

I confess to a certain delight (though I know it's also scary) that emergency vehicles find the townlet's streets confusing. Midwesterners are too reliant upon grids.

Shelley said...

You were hit much worse than we were. The storm skirted around us, which is typical for our area.

Also very glad no one was hurt.

Don said...

From a neighborhood party last night:

My neighbors all agreed that emergency folk have a hard time understanding the magical townlet.

One of our neighbors talked to the electrical workers. The lightening hit a pole about three feet from our bedroom window. Our windows were open. Which explains the flood of light and the noise that almost knocked us out of bed.

It was a surreal interuption in our normal, quiet lives.