Lewiston magician gets front-row seat for nature’s show


LEWISTON – As a magician, Steve Cornish is accustomed to harnessing the powers of nature to create illusions to dazzle an audience. Sometimes though, nature steals the show.

The Dimsdale Avenue man was on his deck Friday afternoon when a lightning bolt cracked from the sky and presto! Most of his chimney disappeared.

“I’ve heard thunder before, and I’ve seen lightning before, but not like that,” Cornish said. “It felt like it went right through me, it was so powerful.”

It was about 2:30 p.m. when a brief but powerful storm moved across the area, bringing thunder, lightning and marble-sized hail with it.

Cornish was outside talking on the phone as he pondered work in progress on his deck and on what will soon be a pool in the backyard. Gray clouds were moving in, and the wind had picked up.

“My wife said, ‘I wouldn’t work out there right now,'” Cornish said. “But I’m not afraid of much.”

He may be bold, but even a seasoned magician will become unnerved when the sky unleashes its show-stopping trick. There was a ferocious crack, and then lightning struck his chimney, sending debris raining to the ground.

“It jumped me right out of my skin,” Cornish recalled. “I said, ‘Holy macaroni!’ It just exploded. I heard it and saw it, but I didn’t know what it had hit.”

Then Cornish looked down into his yard and saw where debris from the demolished chimney had crashed down upon a slab where the pool will be one day. The slab was cracked.

Cornish lives at 30 Dimsdale Ave., which runs parallel to Webster Street off Farwell Street. The Fire Department responded, but the lightning spared Cornish from the pain of fire. Mostly, it left damage and rattled nerves in its wake. The chimney liner was cracked. The family computer, in spite of a surge protector, would not start up after the home was hit by electricity from the sky.

“What are you going to do?” Cornish said. “You can’t stop that kind of thing. That’s why you have insurance. I’m thankful there wasn’t a fire and that no one was hurt.”