Lightning jolts Mill Valley residents

September 12, 2009 7:23:03 PM PDT
Thunderstorms rolled into the Bay Area overnight Friday. Thousands in one North Bay community woke up frightened not only to the storm's noise, but to what it left behind.

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"One lightning bolt hit my eaves under there, under the window, scared my wife to death," one resident recalled Saturday.

On Summit Avenue in Mill Valley Saturday, everyone was talking about what happened that morning when heavy lightning and thunder crashed down on the neighborhood.

"All of a sudden it was like boom and all the lights went 'whish' like almost like crashing, and then it was blackness. And, it was dark. And, all the kids were like, 'Ahhh!' screaming," recalled resident Nicki Kelly.

At the epicenter of the lightning strike, the bolts came down in fingers taking out a chunk of concrete and hitting the side of a tree.

"Tree got stripped and all the branches fell right down there, hanging by my neighbor's house," said resident Alex Andersen.

The redwood tree exploded and huge pieces broke off. Some pieces launched into the street above. A few drove sharply into the ground and others destroyed a private walkway and garden near a home that sits below the massive tree. Now, all that can be seen up the small slope is debris.

"It is dangerous as far as the branches that are hanging, or caught on the other trees. If those fall those could be very dangerous to people," said Stella Pecoraro.

Tree climbers spent hours checking neighboring trees for stability and loose limbs while PG&E crews tried to restore power to many who lost it because of the lightning strikes.

"Probably just ran through the grounds, phone lines, and came back to that back side where it's supposed to go out, but came in," Vince Zinkl with PG&E explained.

Crews started working before dawn hoping to get a head start on the strong September storm.

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