COVINGTON, Va. – A lightning strike left devastating damage at the Covington Public Works building overnight.
Around midnight, Covington City officials said lighting hit a fence near the public works building along Maple Street, traveled underground and struck an unused gasoline storage tank.
The explosion sent asphalt flying into the air and flipped a van on top of a truck. The lightning then traveled underground inside the public works building and wreaked even more havoc.
“Asphalt went through the roof of the building. It’s a considerable amount of damage,” said Mayor Tom Sibold.
Sibold said city leaders first learned of the damage because the strike shattered a window next door at the Paperworker’s Union, setting off that building’s alarm.
Gary Twitty, who was born and raised in Covington, almost thought he heard a bomb go off.
“I heard a big, like a big boom,” said Twitty. “I said ‘What in the world?’ And I said, ‘That thing hit something. Had to hit something.’”
Sibold says, luckily, no one was hurt.
“I’m so glad there wasn’t anybody working. In a storm like that, it’s not unusual to have people out at that time of night. Trees in the road, or whatever, they’re out here working around the clock a lot of times. And nobody was on scene, so that helped a lot. It would have been a serious problem if somebody had been here. They would’ve gotten hurt bad,” said Sibold.
The city’s been talking about relocating the public works department and Sibold said this could speed up the process.
In Twitty’s 62 years in Covington, he said this is a first and hopefully a last.
“I’ve been here all my life. Never seen nothing like it. Never,” said Twitty.
The city is still working to evaluate the damage before they come up with a plan from there.