Bar Harbor Firefighters examine a tree on the Village Green that was struck by lightning during a fast-moving squall on Sunday, Sept. 11. PHOTO COURTESY OF CASEY MCLEOD

Weekend lightning strikes damage home, cars, phones



BAR HARBOR — A swift but powerful electrical storm pushed across Mount Desert Island just after noon on Sunday, leaving damage from multiple lightning strikes in its wake.

The heaviest damage seemed to be in the vicinity of the Bar Harbor Village Green, where lightning struck a large tree on the Mount Desert Street side. The heat of the electrical charge coursing between the ground and the sky literally exploded a strip of bark off the tree.

The strike also damaged sensitive electronic and communications equipment at the nearby Bar Harbor Public Safety Building.

Another bolt hit a tree and an electrical transformer outside of Cafe This Way, about 100 yards away. It knocked out power, forcing the business to close for the day. When it reopened on Monday, the café had to accept only cash or checks due to damage done to credit card equipment during the storm.

A car parked at the Anchorage Motel, about a block away, also reportedly was hit. Witnesses reported seeing the flash and then smoke wafting out from under the hood afterwards.

In Seal Harbor, lightning hit a house near Day Street. A neighbor reported that it made a huge bang and blew out several windows. Cable television service in Seal Harbor also was disrupted.

Another Seal Harbor resident reported that a strike damaged their well pump.

Earlier in the morning, around 4:30 a.m., power across Hancock County was knocked out for around an hour when lightning from a storm in the Bangor area hit electrical transmission equipment.

Residents of Southwest Harbor and Tremont were without power for several hours on both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, a blown transformer in Southwest Harbor cut service to hundreds of customers on the western side of Mount Desert Island for several hours. During the storm just after noon on Sunday, high winds toppled a tree onto electrical wires on Harbor Drive in Tremont, knocking out power to the surrounding area. Service was restored around 5 p.m.

According to Bar Harbor officials, the damage total from the strike at the Village Green will total thousands of dollars.

Among the damaged equipment were an internet routing switch, a surveillance camera and a phone system power supply. Most phone service and internet access to the facility was offline until around 4 p.m.

Two phones in the dispatch office, as well as all 911 emergency lines, remained active. A laptop computer from a police cruiser that connects with the internet via the cellular phone system provided temporary database access.

A backup power supply unit at the sewer department also was fried.

According to information provided by Town Manager Cornell Knight, the cost of replacing the damaged equipment likely will exceed $4,000.

Earl Brechlin

Earl Brechlin

Editor at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander editor Earl Brechlin first discovered Mount Desert Island 35 years ago and never left. The author of seven guide and casual history books, he is a Registered Maine Guide and has served as president of the Maine and New England Press Associations. He and his wife live in Bar Harbor.
Earl Brechlin

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