Published On: Wed, Apr 6th, 2016

3 Boca Raton Firefighters Recovering After Lightning Strike

CRA News Service

Three firefighters were injured by a bolt of lightning recently while putting out a backyard fire that had been ignited by a previous lightning strike.

All of the firefighters were knocked to the ground. One flew 15 to 20 feet into the air, was found face down and started having a seizure. He regained consciousness shortly after.

They underwent medical tests at Delray Medical Center where two were treated for minor injuries and released the same day, Boca Raton Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Michael LaSalle said. The third was kept overnight and was released the following day.

Medical personnel “did some tests and they’re home resting,” LaSalle said. “They all will be fine.”

The firefighters were standing under an overhang of the home in the 3100 block of NW 27th Avenue, near Yamato Road, while extinguishing the fire and when they stepped out to retrieve a hose, the lightning struck. It is not clear if it was a direct strike or whether the lightning hit nearby.

“They extinguished the fire [and] were bending over to bring the water hose from the back of the house to the truck and that’s all they remember,” LaSalle said. “We’re not sure if it hit them or the ground first, but in my opinion it must have hit near them. Direct hits usually end badly.”

Officials with the National Weather Service in Miami said there were about 160 lightning strikes in the city between 3:30 p.m. and 4 p.m., around the same time when the firefighters were struck.

That incident is serving as a chilling reminder to first responders of the added danger they face when working during storms. It also should be a wakeup call to the public that lightning storms, are not something to fool around with.

“When these things happen, don’t go out there thinking you have time,” LaSalle said. “Seek shelter. Don’t take it for granted.”

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