Lightning knocks down Wasilla man

Posted: Friday, June 15, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A Wasilla man sorting ceramics for an upcoming garage sale was knocked off his feet by a lightning strike Thursday afternoon.

Ken Clarke, 45, was standing between his house and shed at about 5 p.m. after a heavy downpour, said Mahlon Greene, a Matanuska-Susitna Borough Fire Department battalion chief. Lightning struck a birch tree about 60 feet away from where Clarke was standing.

''It blew a significant part of the tree out, went into the ground, tore the ground up significantly along the roots, traveled under the shed, came up through the floor of the shed by where he was standing, blew the wood away, blew the ground up, and formed about a 6-inch-deep trench between the shed and the house,'' Greene said.

The charge knocked Clarke back about 15 feet.

''His wife saw him traveling through the air,'' Greene said. ''He thought the shed was on fire.''

Clarke managed to get up and quickly put a garden hose on the smoking shed, while his wife, Terry, called 911.

The Fire Department and Wasilla EMS arrived a short time later and began treating Clarke, who told them he felt sensations of burning and numbness in his legs and feet.

Clarke was taken to Valley Hospital, where he was treated and released.

The lightning bolt struck three trees, Greene said. One was split almost in half, with a huge chunk of the trunk propelled about 50 feet. The strike temporarily knocked out power to about eight houses.

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