Traverse City Record-Eagle

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July 9, 2013

More storms on horizon following lightning strikes

TRAVERSE CITY — Lightning never strikes the same place twice, as the saying goes. Unless that place is Traverse City.

At least three lightning bolts hit in and around the city on Monday, and forecasters predict more nasty weather today.

Lightning from Monday’s storm damaged one historic structure, burned another and knocked out power to thousands of homes.

The worst reported damaged occurred early Monday west of downtown off North Long Lake Road, where lightning ignited a roughly 150-year-old barn.

Barn owner Bob Samuelson said the fire demolished the structure in about 30 minutes.

“There was no stopping it,” he said.

Samuelson said the wooden building was a homestead barn from the 1800s. State officials later used it and surrounding land to grow food for the Traverse City State Hospital, one of the barn’s many uses over the years.

“I had a book that told the whole story, but it went up with the barn,” Samuelson said.

Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department crews arrived at the burning barn at 3:30 a.m. Fire was so intense that firefighters focused on saving nearby storage structures, Metro Fire Chief Pat Parker said. Some dry wood inside the barn contributed to the fire’s savage nature.

“That was a heck of a fuel load,” Parker said.

Samuelson and several friends restored the barn as they grew up. It contained an upstairs living space, a wood burning stove and a workshop.

Samuelson said he plans to rebuild.

“The most valuable thing to salvage, which is not a small thing, is the memories,” he said.

Lightning also struck the towering dome of Traverse City’s Central United Methodist Church Monday morning. The church celebrated the 100th anniversary of its dedication last month.

The bolt dislodged several tiles and possibly led to some water damage, said Darcy Dewling, the church’s treasurer and executive assistant to pastors.

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