LEWISTON — Matthew Strout was getting a drink of water when the night sky lit up and crashed with the loudest sound he ever heard.

“I just hit the deck,” he said, describing how he had collapsed onto the kitchen floor of his mobile home in Lewiston’s Country Lane Estates.

Next door, the sunburst from the 3:10 a.m. lightning strike woke Jan McGowan in time to be shaken by the immense boom, followed by the sound of her picture frames shaking from the walls and crashing to the floor.

Two homes further down Victory Drive, Jessica and Daryl Morrill woke to an impact on their west wall.

A splinter of pine the size of a fire hydrant tore through the outer wall and landed in Jessica’s closet.

“Thank God her clothes absorbed the impact,” Daryl said.

Bits of pine — some stretching 6 feet in length — littered roofs and driveways, lawns and gardens on Wednesday.

During the night, one of the 70-foot-tall pines that sat on a bluff above the mobile home park exploded when it was apparently struck by lightning.

“At least it happened when it did,” Ralph Strout said, as he walked through the debris beside his home a few hours later. “If anybody had been out here, they’d have gotten a faceful of tree.”

“It must have been the tallest point around,” McGowan said, gesturing to the new stump. Sitting atop the stump was a sliver of the old tree. But no other tree-sized pieces remained. Hundreds of splinters — ranging in size from pencils to baseball bats to canoes — littered the wooded area in a circle.

Matthew Strout, who was home alone at the time of the strike, waited until the storm was over and then crept outside with a flashlight to see what had happened. Wood had poked a couple of holes in the vinyl siding. A branch had buckled the skirting at the bottom of the home.

“It smelled like fresh cut wood,” Strout said.

He called his dad, Ralph Strout, a registered nurse who was working the night shift at Marshwood Manor. He came home when his shift ended.

“He was a little freaked out,” Ralph Strout said.

One of the side effects to the blast was hearing problems.

“It hurt,” Matthew Strout said. “It took hours for the hearing to come back in one ear.”

At first light, McGowan went outside and discovered a new dent in her siding just below her bedroom window. 

Had the piece of wood impacted a foot to the right, it would have gone straight through the glass.

“My bed is right there,” she said. “It would have killed me.”

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.