A series of thunderstorms sparked fires and knocked down trees and power lines throughout the Mid-Columbia region Monday.
A direct lightning strike to a home near the Badger Mountain trailhead in south Richland ignited the house, causing heavy damage.
Paul Driver was home with his wife, Jody, cooking dinner when they heard a loud “hit” from the storm and sparks flew inside.
But it wasn’t until he went outside and a neighbor said their roof was on fire.
They escaped quickly with some pets and little else. He told neighbors, he grabbed a wallet, purse, two dogs and a cat. Their pet snake didn’t survive.
Fire was consuming the roof by the time thinly spread fire crews were able to converge on the home on the 1400 block of Meadow Hills Drive.
Another fire reportedly started in the attic of a Salerno Lane home in Richland. Firefighters reported the residents also escaped unharmed.
A Pasco police officer had close call when a lightning bolt struck the ground near his patrol car, capturing the blast on his dashcam.
Late in the afternoon, the National Weather Service amped up its red flag warning for the entire Lower Columbia Basin of Washington and Oregon.
The warning extended until 10 p.m. Monday.
After a string of 90-plus degree days, the weather service’s Pendleton office said thunderstorms were rolling across the region. The high temperature Monday was 103 recorded at the Tri-Cities Airport in Pasco.
Radar as of 4:15 p.m. showed the storms stretching in a line from Walla Walla southwest into Hermiston.
The weather service then sent out a severe threat alert at 5:02 p.m. to warn of possible flash floods in some areas. About an inch of rain was unofficially reported in the Tri-Cities by 7 p.m.
The sudden downpour caused streets and some highways to have standing water, including the intersection of Canal Drive and Volland Street in Kennewick.
Two people from Yakima were hurt when their SUV rolled after hitting standing water on Interstate 82, six miles west of Kennewick just before 6 p.m.
Malvin T. Kamimoto, 71, and Nicki P. Kamimoto, 55, were taken to Trios Southridge Hospital in Kennewick.
A Washington State Patrol report said their Subaru Forester was eastbound on I-82 when he lost control. Malvin Kamimoto will be cited for driving too fast in the stormy conditions.
Temporary road closures in Richland included Columbia Park Trail from Hillwood Street to Rockwood Drive and at Gage Boulevard from Leslie Road to Bellerive Drive.
The neighborhood near Bethel Church off Keene Road in South Richland was flooding, prompting kids to grab their pool floats and have some fun after the lightning had passed.
Wind gusts of up to 52 mph were reported in parts of Franklin County and up to about 30 mph in the Tri-Cities, downing some trees and power lines.
No serious injuries were initially reported.
Fire crews were also busy in rural areas, where lightning sparked grass and brush fires.
One Tri-City Herald reader shared a video showing the demolished remains of a fireworks stand in the parking lot of Richland’s Walmart.
Benton PUD worked on various power outages including one in the Rancho Reata area and another in the area of 10th Avenue and Clodfelter Road.
The weather systems were expected to pass through the region by 11 p.m. bringing temperatures in the high ‘80s for most of the rest of the week.
At 8:45 p.m., the clouds parted in the Tri-Cities and the sun came out in time for a brilliant sunset.
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