Home burns, restaurant worker hurt in wild lightning storm

A thunderstorm raged through Jackson County tonight as lightning struck and partially burned a manufactured home in west Medford and injured an employee of the Central Point McDonald’s restaurant.

Streets and homes flooded and widespread power outages were reported as the storm dumped a reported half inch of rain in about 20 minutes in southwest Medford.

More than 3,000 lightning strikes were recorded by the National Weather Service in Southern Oregon and Northern California between this afternoon and 9:30 p.m.

Winds whipping up to 30 miles per hour knocked trees onto power lines as lightning and thunder shook the valley. More than 14,000 customers of Pacific Power lost electricity at various times starting at 7:40 p.m.

Dan Grove, a volunteer firefighter with Fire District 3 in Central Point, said the injured McDonald’s employee was pulling dishes out of a dishwasher when he got an electrical discharge from the lightning that apparently struck a pipe on the roof.

“He was doing okay,” he said.

The identity of the employee wasn’t immediately available, but Grove said he was transported to Providence Medford Medical Center for observation.

In a separate lightning strike, a manufactured home on Thorn Oak Drive was burned.

Erin Sawall, acting battalion chief for Medford Fire, said lightning struck the roof of a manufactured home at 2552 Thorn Oak Drive, Number 17.

When firefighters arrived four minutes after the call came in, Sawall said the fire had torn through the roof and smoke was in the attic.

The occupants, whose names were not immediately available, escaped the house. “No one was injured,” said Sawall.

Monte Mendenhall, spokesman for Pacific Power, said the stormed wreaked havoc on the power system

About 8,600 customers lost power at 7:40 p.m. in the Medford area, but it only lasted for about three minutes, he said.

Then at 7:46 p.m., the Sage Road subdivision got knocked out when lightning struck a transmission pole at 1800 Sage Road.

Mendenhall said 5,264 customers lost power, but most were back on by 8:56 p.m. Some 801 customers were still without power at 9:30 p.m.

-- Damian Mann

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