WESTERLY — A man suffered minor injuries and three buildings sustained damage after officials said all four were struck by lightning during a powerful storm that made its way through the region Monday afternoon.
Emergency officials in Westerly responded to the first three calls in less than an hour Monday afternoon, the first coming in as lightning and thunder began to batter the greater Westerly area.
"We had several calls come in, one after another, and each was related to lightning," said Police Chief Shawn Lacey. "We had a half-dozen strikes, and power was down, which led to officers being assigned to direct traffic at routes 1 and 78."
The calls each came in consecutively beginning around 2:45 p.m. according to dispatch records. Emergency medical responders were called to a home along Chin Hill Road in the Avondale section of town for reports of a man struck by lightning.
Lacey said an investigation determined that the 42-year-old man was working on a boat when he saw a flash of light and felt tingling. The police said it was determined that he was likely struck by lightning, but was treated at his home and did not need to be taken to the hospital. The boat was not damaged in the strike, officials said.
Moments later, Misquamicut firefighters were called to 71 Uzzi Ave. for reports of a fire that had erupted in a home. Misquamicut Fire Chief Todd Findeisen said firefighters arrived to see smoke coming from a second-floor room above a garage and Misquamicut firefighters quickly worked to contain the blaze while a Watch Hill ladder truck worked to vent the roof.
The response allowed firefighters to prevent the blaze from spreading into other areas of the home. No injuries were reported and damage was contained to the roof above the garage, preventing residents from being displaced.
The fire was determined to have been caused by lightning striking a cupola on the roof of the garage.
"It was a great response from our volunteers and mutual aid," Findeisen said.
Approximately 30 minutes later, Westerly firefighters were dispatched to another lightning strike incident at Guardian Fuel, 79 Old Hopkinton Road, when Lacey said callers reported that the building had been struck. He said the lightning strike caused a malfunction with a circuit breaker, as well as leaving a minor smoke condition in the building.
During a second wave of the storm Monday evening, Dunn's Corners firefighters were also called to the scene of a detached garage fire at a home at 509 Klondike Road in Charlestown. As of 5:30 p.m., there was no one in the garage but the fire was considered "fully involved" as a result of a lightning strike.
Further details of the fire were not available as of deadline.