Country Enery's Martin Kobier, Bruce Grosse and Les Saddler work to restore power.
Country Enery's Martin Kobier, Bruce Grosse and Les Saddler work to restore power. The Northern Star

Lightning strike leaves Ballina on the dark side

WHEN Ballina business owner Tiffany-Lee heard what she thought was firecrackers going off outside her River Street shop yesterday afternoon, she went out to investigate.

But when people started yelling 'Get away, get away! It's not safe!' she realised something was seriously wrong.

Just a minute earlier lightning had struck the power pole outside Tiffany-Lee's shop, La Mystique, damaging the electricity transformer and causing a blackout which left about 600 Country Energy town customers without power.

The strike 'sizzled' the power pole, and when Tiffany-Lee saw smoke billowing from it she rushed to the phone and called the fire brigade.

“People were all staring at my shop, but at first I didn't realise what was going on,” she said.

“When I realised what had happened it made my temperature rise.

“I really just thought it was firecrackers.”

Down the street Rob McArthur, of Ballina Insurance Brokers, had a lucky escape after witnessing a lightning strike just 100 metres from where he was standing.

Mr McArthur said the lightning hit the corner of Crane and Moon streets during the storm.

“I nearly jumped six feet in the air,” he said.

“The lightning looked like a lot of dots joined together. I'm just glad I wasn't any closer.”

Mr McArthur said his firm had already received calls from Byron Bay residents whose vehicles suffered damage as a result of the hailstorm that swept through the town.

Country Energy spokesperson Mike Hely said the lightning strike to the River Street power pole caused a blackout lasting more than two hours.

While 600 customers were initially without power, Country Energy soon had many back online as its workers tried to fix the damaged transformer.

A lightning strike at Broken Head also caused a short power outage in the Byron Bay area.



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