The powerful thunderstorm that blew through Adams County on Tuesday night brought more than high winds and heavy downpours. At approximately 9:30 p.m., a bolt of lightning struck a utility pole next to O’Reilly Autoparts, causing the transformer to explode and sending a large number of buildings southwest of O’Reilly’s along the strip into darkness.
Joseph Kiskadden, an employee, had just pulled into the parking lot when he saw the strike.
“Sparks were coming off 20 feet from the transformer,” Kiskadden said. “It was so loud that I saw everyone inside duck for cover.”
Employees inside the store say they felt vibrations from the strike and a tingling sensation, as merchandise fell from shelves. As far as damage, O’Reilly’s only had to replace one communication box inside for their internet service. Whereas, AEP had to replace the transformer.
The West Union Fire department arrived on scene at 9:51 p.m. and begin an inspection of the building. After examining the inside and external walls for any fire damage from the strike, the firefighters used the ladder truck to inspect the steel roof. The West Union Fire department states that no damage was found on the building itself, and they returned to Station 18 at 10:50 p.m.
Wendy’s and Save-a-Lot both reported they were unaffected by the power failure and remained open under normal operating hours.
Walmart, however, was not as lucky, and lost power. One shopper who wished to remain anonymous reported that, while they were waiting in the check-out line, the lights started flickering, then the power went out in the parking lot. After the shopper had exited the building, the power went out in the store.
When asked for details, management at the Walmart Supercenter would not comment and directed us to corporate media relations, who did not return our attempts to contact them.