Lightning Causes Fire At Emmet Co. Home, Storms Brush Through Polish Festival

The storm on Thursday night brought thunder and lightning through Emmet County and the surrounding areas.

Lightning hit a gas line at a home in Resort Township, sparking a fire in the front yard.

“I heard thunder off in the distance, and then all of the sudden there was a flash of light, and simultaneously the thunder,” said Homeowner Bill Lewis.

He was at home in Resort Township when lightning struck a gas line in his front yard.

Damage from the fire was limited, but he says it struck hard enough to shake him and his house.

“It was very loud, my wife came running up from the basement, where she said the foundation was actually shook,” added Lewis.

The fire department who responded says they’ve dealt with a fires caused by lightning before, but never one that involved natural gas.

“We’ve never had anything to this extent, we’ve had some houses struck by lightning and caused some attic fires but we’ve never had a natural gas or even propane type incident before. Overall it was a good outcome, got the gas shut off and everything was safe,” said Resort Bear Creek Fire & Rescue Chief Al Welsheimer.

In Boyne Falls, the storms caused concern at the annual Polish Festival.

The Charlevoix County Sheriff’s Department and festival organizers kept a close watch on the sky.

“The first decision was to maybe evacuate the tent for safety because the tornado was spotted, he got in contact with natural weather service and we knew exactly where that storm was minute by minute,” explained Festival Chairman Jeremy Loper.

The festival was able to continue running, keeping everyone under the tent. They say there’s always plans in place for bad weather like Thursday night.

“We did get a little rain in our tent, but that just made it more fun. We are always prepared for the worst or the best here,” said Loper. 

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