Is Diamondhead The Lightning Rod Of Hancock County? - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

07/12/05

Is Diamondhead The Lightning Rod Of Hancock County?

Hurricanes are not the only weather phenomenon that can cause a lot of damage to homes and businesses on the coast. Lightening strikes can be just as devastating. And it's something Diamondhead sees a lot of, according to fire officials there.

Al Showers takes a look at two leading theories on why the Hancock County community is attracting so many strikes.

A few burnt bricks and pieces of wood is all that's left of the home that once stood on Cherryhill Drive. Lightening struck the home May 29th, sparking a fire that destroyed everything.

"The lightening hit at the back right hand corner and ignited it. While the firefighters were there fighting the fire, we had lightening hit a pine tree right there in the back yard. And then lightening hit again across the fairway," Diamondhead Fire Chief Dennis Westbrook said.

Westbrook says his firefighters have a lot of experience taking on lightning.

"Here in Diamondhead we have a record of a lot of lightening strikes. Over the years we've had several houses hit by lightening. We've had many, many trees hit by lightening."

Another home, in the same neighborhood as the latest home to get struck, was recently rebuilt. The owners had to start over after a devastating lightning strike about a year and a half ago.

Even the fire station in Diamondhead has been hit three times in the last ten years.

"We were loosing a lot of equipment, the radio systems, televisions, everything we had electronically at one time has been knocked out."

Some folks started wondering why quiet little Diamondhead seems to be the lightning rod of Hancock County.

Some say it's the elevation, 90 feet above sea level in some areas. But Assistant Fire Chief Rodney Aguzin has heard another theory.

"We were told many years ago that Diamondhead is located on an iron ore deposit and metal, which iron ore is, draws the lightning."

That information came from telephone technicians who, after a lightning strike, came out to fix the fire department's phone system and ground the communication tower.

What ever the reason, firefighters say since you can't stop lightning from striking. In fact, the best anyone can do is to protect their appliances and electronics with surge protectors.

by Al Showers

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