Lightning fire destroys bales

The roar of thunder and the flash of lightning from an electrical storm that swept through the area July 3 seemed so perilously close

Fire struck bales in a farmyard northwest of Rimbey last week. The fire completely destroyed the bales

Fire struck bales in a farmyard northwest of Rimbey last week. The fire completely destroyed the bales

The roar of thunder and the flash of lightning from an electrical storm that swept through the area July 3 seemed so perilously close to her house, Angela Oram hit the floor for cover.

“The thunder struck and the lightning sounded all at the same time,” the farm wife and mother of two recalled. “There’s no time differential. And the lightning seemed like a sudden glow behind me.”

After the initial thunder and lightning scare, Oram and her children, seven-year-old Owen and five-year-old Tracy, peered out of the south window of their farmhouse, to see flames shooting out of a stack of 40 large square alfalfa bales about 200 feet away.

“The lightning had hit the tarp and the bales were on fire,” Oram said. “When I saw that I just picked up the phone and called 9-1-1 right away.”

Although shaken by the sudden turn of events, Oram had enough presence of mind to let some cattle out of a pen close to the burning hay bales before the Rimbey Fire Department arrived. The Orams raise purebred shorthorns they plan to show at the Westerner Exhibition coming to Red Deer later this month.

Oram said the firefighters, who arrived at the farm which about two miles northwest of Rimbey in less than 10 minutes, were able to contain the fire, although howling winds combined with the smoldering bales kept Oram, her husband, Chad, and her mother, Shirley King awake all night.

“It was still smouldering and there were sparks flying.”

A day after the fire, heavy winds were still sweeping through the area, but the electrical storm seemed to have passed. Looking back on the fire, Oram is relieved the damage wasn’t worse.

“It was minor compared to what could have happened. It could have hit the house with the kids and I in it or it could have hit the trees 100 feet north.”

She said the land north of the house is covered with 55 acres of bush leading down to the Blindman River.

“You never know. It could have been much worse.”

Oram is grateful the fire department arrived so promptly and worked so efficiently to extinguish the blaze.

“They are very nice people.”