N.C.– Eight firefighters struck by lightning

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From WCNC.com–

LENOIR, N.C. — Five firefighters are still in a hospital after being struck by lighting while battling a forest fire.

A total of eight firefighters with the North Carolina Forest Service were trying to contain the blaze Saturday, which was sparked by lighting the day before. The strike happened at 4:48 p.m.

Forestry officials believe the lightning bolt hit a tree; the energy radiated underground, where the firefighters were taking a break. They say the sky was clear blue at the time.

“It was totally unexpected. We monitor and try and keep up with the weather and there was no prediction, no threat of imminent danger. Had there been, we would have pulled those firefighters off the mountain,” said Rusty Dellinger, a ranger with the North Carolina Forest Service.

The area was so remote that it took crews an hour and a half to get them down from the mountain and into an ambulance. None of the injuries appear to be life-threatening.

“Most of them were complaining of pain in the lower extremities. Some were complaining of headaches. Some did receive some minor burns,” said Dellinger.

Initially, all eight firefighters were hospitalized. Doctors are treating the remaining five firefighters at Caldwell Memorial Hospital. Four of the eight are inmates who assist the forest service though a work release program. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating what happened.


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