First day of Goshen-Lempster School canceled by lightning strike
LEMPSTER - The first day of school was canceled Thursday after a lightning strike caused a dangerous propane leak and knocked out the electrical power at Goshen-Lempster School on Wednesday night.
"We were supposed to have our first day of school today," school principal Ralph Peterson said Thursday morning. "Now we are not going to be having school until Tuesday."
The school teaches students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
"We had a lightning strike last night around 10 o'clock. The lightning hit a large pine tree, blew up the tree, pretty much splitting it down the middle. I guess the explosion was heard up to a quarter of a mile to a half-mile away," Peterson said.
The electrical charge from the lightning bolt went into the ground and melted an inch and a half gash into a cooper pipe that delivers propane to the school building from propane tanks about 150 feet away from the school, Peterson said.
Phone and electrical wires were also damaged, knocking out the alarm system, telephone and some of the building lights.
Irving Oil was at the school Thursday morning repairing the melted propane pipe and testing the entire system, Peterson said. The workers said they had never seen such a large hole in a pipe before, he said.
Peterson said the Goshen-Lempster volunteer fire department is to be commended. The firefighters responded to the dangerous and dark scene Wednesday night to shut off the propane tank, stopping the leak.
"They were here well past midnight, working out in the dark,"? Peterson said.
The school's new computers purchased recently for the computer lab are fine for the most part, Peterson said.
Fortunately the computer lab was moved to another part of the building but had previously been on the side of the building closest to the explosion, he said.
"We have a whole new lab of computers," Peterson said. "Right now they look like they are OK, just some of the switches got knocked out."
The school's insurance is expected to cover most of the damage costs, Peterson said.
Peterson and a few teachers drove around the Goshen-Lempster school district Thursday morning making sure no students were outside waiting for the bus. They found about 15 students who had not heard that school had been canceled.
A greeting party was also at the school to tell any children who arrived at the school Thursday morning, he said.
"It's funny cause the younger kids were really kind of sad there was no school and the older kids were like, 'all right,' " Peterson said.