A wave of powerful thunderstorms swept through Madison County and surrounding areas Friday afternoon, providing some much-needed rain but also keeping local police and fire departments busy with automobile accidents and other weather-related incidents.
Rainfall descended on the area about 3 p.m., but it was the storms’ powerful wind gusts that did the most damage.
Firefighters responded to a house fire in the 2700 block of Redbud Lane after wind knocked a tree limb onto a power line, sparking a fire over the roof of the garage.
According to battalion chief Eric Hutchison, the downed power line caused the entire residence to become “energized.” Firefighters were receiving electrical shocks, so they had to delay their efforts to extinguish the blaze until workers from Anderson Municipal Light & Power disconnected electricity to the house. After that, Hutchison said, all that was left was to extinguish some remaining hot spots.
Hutchison said no one was home at the time of the fire, and estimated damage to the structure at about $20,000.
On 53rd Street, wind blew a section of roofing off a building housing Southside Automotive Service.
According to owner Tim Lusher, the storm came with almost no warning.
“Within 60 seconds of the storm hitting, (the roof) was gone,” Lusher said.
The shop is located in a large, pole-barn-style building that has roofing at various elevations. Had the building been designed with only one elevation, Lusher believes he would have lost the entire roof.
Remarkably, no one was injured, and the metal roofing did not do serious damage to any of the cars in the parking lot. Lusher said after falling off the side of the building, the roofing blew several feet, without touching the ground, to the back of the property, and landed against a dumpster.
Brett Patterson, a technician at Southside, said he moved his truck after the storm started. Seconds later the roof landed where his truck had been. Had he not moved when he did, Patterson said his truck would have been destroyed and he would’ve been injured.
A section of roofing also blew off of one of the horse barns at Hoosier Park Casino. According to spokesman Grant Sharton, the damage to the property was minor, and no horses were harmed.
In Pendleton, firefighters rescued a man trapped under scaffolding at Pendleton High School. According to fire chief Danny Gardner, the man was conducting a marching band — not associated with the school — from atop the scaffolding when the storm hit. After being freed from the scaffolding, he was transported by ambulance to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. Gardner said the man was conscious and alert.
The gusts of wind also caused a number of blackouts in the area.
Late Friday evening, Madison County Emergency Management Agency spokesman Todd Harmeson said there were about 12,000 customers in Madison County without power. He said crews expected to have power restored to all customers some time after midnight.
Emergency crews responded to several reports of fallen trees and downed power lines as well. However, Harmeson said, none resulted in serious property damage.
A power outage in Pendleton also caused a traffic backup along Indiana 67.
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