Lightning strike, fire keep Manchester first responders busy

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MANCHESTER — First responders here were kept on their toes on Tuesday morning, as a lightning strike and a house fire that also may have been caused by lightning occurred within two hours of each other.

In both cases, a bit of luck and quick response kept potential catastrophe at bay.

At about 9:15 a.m., police were called to the parking lot of Shaw's Supermarket on Equinox Terrace for a report of a woman struck by lightning.

Manchester Police Officer Ryan Matteson said the woman, who is in her mid-30s, was already inside the store being tended to by EMS personnel when he arrived on the scene.

The woman, whose identity was not immediately available, was breathing, alert, and not showing evidence of burns or an exit wound. She did, however, have some discoloration in her right hand and numbness in her right arm, and was transported by Granville (N.Y.) Rescue Squad to Rutland Regional Hospital for observation.

Granville was called via mutual aid because both of the Northshire Rescue Squad's ambulances were on other calls at the time. "They did a pretty stellar job of getting here quickly," Matteson said of the Granville crew.

Matteson said it may have been possible that the woman suffered an indirect hit through contact with another surface.

Two hours later, at about 11 a.m., Manchester Volunteer Fire Department personnel were called to a report of a structure fire at 69 Cottage St.

Two neighbors had spotted smoke coming from the first floor of the two-story cape, called 911 and went to the front and side doors to gain entry and make sure no one was trapped inside. They later learned that no one was home

Ian Mackenzie, who lives next door, made his way in through the side door and found the first floor was full of smoke coming from the basement. "It made me choke," he said.

Shortly after, as fire trucks arrived, flames could be seen shooting up through the external wall just below the electric meters. Bright sparks popped as the fire damaged the meter, and smoke could be seen hovering over the ground bear the front of the house.

As some firefighters went in and attacked the flames in the basement, others employed fans to ventilate the smoke from the home.

Manchester fire chief Chris Towslee said the fire was confined to an electrical panel in the basement and some damage to the basement ceiling. "We were able to contain it and contain most of the smoke to the first floor," he said.

Towlsee didn't pronounce lightning as the definite cause, but said it was a possibility.

Firefighters from Arlington and East Dorset assisted on the scene, and Dorset firefighters staffed the Manchester station while the department was on call.

Reach Journal editor Greg Sukiennik at gsukiennik@manchesterjournal.com or at 802-490-6000.


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