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Fri, Nov. 22

Electrical storms cause damage in tri-city homes

Courier/Jo. L. Keener
Bob Keefauver checks out his DSL modem on Tuesday in his Prescott Valley home. A nearby lightning strike electrical charge damaged the modem when it entered  the home through the telephone lines. A garage door opener and a satellite receiver sustained damage as well.

Courier/Jo. L. Keener Bob Keefauver checks out his DSL modem on Tuesday in his Prescott Valley home. A nearby lightning strike electrical charge damaged the modem when it entered the home through the telephone lines. A garage door opener and a satellite receiver sustained damage as well.

PRESCOTT VALLEY ­ Bob and Pat Keefauver had a shocking experience this month.

The couple was watching television on the evening of July 18, when heavy rains, thunder and lightning hit around their Pronghorn Ranch home.

"I can't tell you how loud it was," Pat said. "It was like a whip cracking, but 1,000 times louder."

The storm moved on, and Pat went to the computer early the next morning to go online and was unable to log on.

The Keefauver's shocking turn of events just started.

The couple took their computer tower to a professional who determined that the computer wasn't the problem; it was the modem.

To the best of their knowledge, Pat and Bob believe a lightning strike hit nearby and ran through the home's telephone line, frying the computer modem, garage door opener, a satellite receiver and the ceiling fan and light in Bob's hobby room.

"I'm just glad nobody was hurt," said Pat.

Mike Johnson, community development manager for APS in Yavapai County, said homeowners have some options to minimize property damage from lightning strikes.

He suggests homeowners look at surge protectors, hiring licensed and bonded electricians for all electrical work and unplugging computer equipment during an electrical storm.

"That's the best you can do," he said. "Lightning is going to do what it's going to do."

The shock wasn't limited to fried property. Charlie Cook, fire marshal with Central Yavapai Fire District, said lightning has struck his Dewey home a couple of times, destroying a television and phone.

Cook suggests people should stay away from open areas and stop using cell phones when lightning hits.

"People need to be cautious," he said. "You can't be cautious enough."

Don Amos, president of Ponderosa Electric in Prescott, said his company receives a spike in lightning-related calls during the monsoon season. He recommended that homeowners take a proactive approach and invest in surge suppression strips throughout the house to protect high-end appliances and a surge suppressor for the entire house.

"You want to do it before your house blows up," he said. "We want to suppress before it gets into the house."

The Keefauvers spent about $500 in repair costs associated with the lightning strike including, a new garage door opener, a surge protector for the computer and a surge protector installed in the home's electrical panel.

"They tell me it works," said Bob. "It's worth it if it works."

Bob retains a sense of humor through his shocking ordeal.

"I hope I don't find anything else," he laughed.

Contact the reporter at jsoifer@prescottaz.com

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