Lightning blasts cattle barn

By Jack Elliott
Rainy River Correspondent

The saying that nothing is so bad it can’t get a little worse came true on Tuesday afternoon, September  7 at the Rainy River Cattlemen’s Sales Yard in Stratton Ontario when a bolt of lightning made an apparent direct hit on the Hydro transformer about 3 pm. It brought urgent work on the new sales yard and auction ring to a grinding halt.

The transformer on the Hydro pole was blown as were many of the electronic components on the new scales and computer system. Two welders were destroyed as well as other numerous pieces of equipment.

On Thursday morning the yard was crawling with electricians and other service personnel trying to assess the damage.

The weekend sale that was scheduled after once being postponed earlier this month had to be cancelled with the next sale now scheduled for the weekend of September 25. This is of course contingent on getting the electrical system back up to snuff and all the scales and computer systems tested as working.

The fortunate end of the situation is that no one was killed or injured as a result of the lightning strike, says RRCA member Kim Jo Bliss. Several workers reported feeling shocks and seeing sparks emerging from various electrical and other metal surfaces. On one exterior steel door frame a black burn mark indicates where electrical discharge had passed.

The race is on, as volunteers and contractors work to repair and replace electronics which were damaged at the new Stratton sales barn. The facility was struck by lightning. The Rainy River Cattlemen’s Association is hoping to have enough of the repair complete for a sale on September 25. – Jack Elliott photo

Lightning strikes are notorious for causing unseen damage to electrical systems like lights, breakers, and surge suppressor systems that are not immediately evident. And of course computers do not react well to these devastating electrical events.

Consider that an electrical bolt from the sky of this magnitude may have a massive current and an electrical potential of millions of volts. An electric fence on the other hand may only have a voltage of perhaps 10 to 20,000 V.