Lightning strike damages buildings in Canaan

By PATRICK ADRIAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 06-21-2024 6:43 PM

CANAAN — Lightning damaged buildings in the town center on Thursday, including the town library and offices and a church on the opposite site of the street.

The charge from a mid-afternoon storm struck the top of Assembly of God church on Route 4, splintering the steeple’s wooden spire.

“We are grateful that no one got hurt,” Pastor Kevin McCullough said in an interview. “There is a little water damage and possibly some electrical damage. But no one was hurt and the (overall) damage was minimal.”

The lightning strikes occurred shortly before 3 p.m., according to the Canaan Fire Department. Town Police and the Lebanon Fire Department also responded to the scene. The spire “exploded” on impact, though a fire did not result, McCullough said.

Lebanon firefighters removed the steeple and covered the opening with a temporary cap.

McCullough said he intends to replace the steeple with a different design, such as a hip roof topped with a cross.

The previous steeple was made entirely of wood and difficult to maintain as a result, McCullough said.

Lightning also damaged the town library and office building at the intersection of Route 4 and Canaan Street.

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Library Director Amy Thurber had stepped away from her computer to assist a patron when a bolt of electricity entered through a glass window and ricocheted off Thurber’s desk.

“I’ve been at the library for 24 years and have never had lightning actually inside the building,” Thurber said in an interview. “Our work area is a very small space, so I was probably standing eight feet from my desk when it happened.”

Two adolescents and an adult had also reported electrical charges passing through a window on the library’s basement level, Thurber said.

The lightning knocked out the building’s phone and Internet system, which will need to be repaired, Town Administrator Chet Hagenbarth said in an email alert on Friday.

The Town Clerk’s Office will be closed until Internet and phone connectivity are restored, hopefully be early next week, Hagenbarth said.

Hagenbarth, who was in the office when the lightning strike occurred, heard the loud electrical crack that wiped out the building’s phone system, he said. Internet service in the building may be restored by Monday, if not earlier, though the phone system is outdated and it might take longer to acquire the needed replacement parts, Hagenbarth said.

Coincidentally, the town signed a new contract this week to upgrade the building’s phone system, Hagenbarth noted.

While the town offices are closed, the town library is still open, though Internet service is limited, according to the library website.

Patrick Adrian can be reached at padrian@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.