Fire departments across the Ozarks responded to several calls during Monday’s storms

Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 9:51 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - You may have seen lightning during Monday night’s thunderstorms. Those storms kept firefighters busy throughout the evening.

Firefighters across the area responded to all sorts of calls, including fires, smoke and electrical issues.

“We know it’s going to be a busy day when we’re expecting a thunderstorm,” said Battlefield Fire Protection District Division Chief Shane Anderson.

Battlefield fire crews ran 13 calls on Monday, and 5 were related to fire, smoke or electrical issues.

“Five is a little more; 13 calls for the days is quite excessive,” Anderson said.

Division Chief Anderson said many nearby departments found themselves in similar situations.

“Springfield had quite a few, obviously,” Anderson described. “A lot of departments in the area, we all work together. So everybody was working those types of calls yesterday. Everybody was staying pretty busy tracking them. Sometimes they were happening multiple calls at once, especially if you have a large lightning strike nearby or something. It could cause several alarms to go off.”

There were a few close calls across town, like the lightning strike near Arvest Bank off Republic and Kansas Expressway.

”The customers actually said that the lightning strike hit the pole, ran down the pole, ran back up and just looked like fire,” Arvest Bank employee Eric Jones said.

The strike did not just come with a startling boom.

”Overall it was probably one of the scarier incidents I’ve ever experienced,” he said. “Kind of felt like a little punch to the chest, and we were 50 yards away.”

Arvest’s computers and phones went out for a while, but firefighters say the issues do not always stop there when it comes to lightning.

“There’s three basic ways it’s going to come into your home,” Anderson said. “So it’s either going to come in through, like some of the plumbing, or it’s going to come in through electrical wiring, or cable wire or phone wire, or it’s going to come into the ground.”

Functioning smoke alarms are most essential.

“Make sure that you have one in every level of the home,” Anderson said. “You really need to have them at least in the hallway outside the bedrooms, if not actually in the bedrooms. One in each bedroom. You should be getting the batteries changed every six months. We usually say that with a change of clocks, change batteries. And then of course, make sure that those alarms are changed at least every 10 years.”

Firefighters have some other important tips in case lightning sneaks inside.

”You need to be away from windows,” Anderson said. “You shouldn’t be around running water, taking a shower or something like that, don’t wash your hands or anything like this. Wait until the storm is over.”

Anderson recommends people avoid using wired phones or other wired objects. You may also want to keep an eye on outlets.

”If you have sensitive electronics that aren’t protected with like a surge protector, it’s not a bad idea to unplug those devices,” he described. “Computers, TVs, things like that can be fairly sensitive.”

Battlefield Fire says always call if you smell something funny after a lightning strike. The department says it and many others offer free at home safety assessments. Crews will go through a checklist to help you keep your home safe.

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