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Lightning spirals through tree near Paradise home

By Colin Steiner, csteiner@krcrtv.com
Published On: Mar 30 2014 08:40:40 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 30 2014 08:43:39 PM CDT
Lightning spirals through tree near Paradise home
PARADISE, Calif. -

A lightning strike during Saturday night's thunderstorms hit a tree in the front yard of a Paradise family's home, scattering bark and splintering the tree in a spiral pattern.

Albert Tong says he, his wife Sharon and their five kids were inside their home off Pentz Road during the storm.

"We heard this big old crash of thunder right on top of us," Tong says. "I mean it shook the house. It was a huge explosion."

Tong's son was looking out a front window when it happened.

"He saw something orange. I thought that it hit the house--the lightning had hit the house--but thank goodness it just hit this tree," says Tong.

When the family awoke Sunday morning the evidence was shocking.

"It looks like it hit it and the lightning kind of spiraled down the tree. Kind of left a almost a zigzag kind of mark down to the bottom."

Bark that blasted off the tree is littered in a 360 degree radius around the hundred foot pine tree, some of it even reaching the Tong's front door step.

But the aftermath isn't just evident in the scars and debris, it appears the energy surged into the ground.

Tong says soil at the base of the tree that was once compacted is now soft. And when he felt the ground this morning he said it still felt warm.

Although rattled, none of the Tong's were hurt by the strike. It does appear some electronics inside the home are no longer working properly.

The near miss is being used as a good learning experience for Tong's kids.

"Definitely stay indoors when it's lightning coming down, yeah," he says.

For now the tree still stands, but just some 30 feet from their home, there are still concerns about its future stability.

Tong says he did some searching online about trees that have been struck by lightning and there is about a 50 percent chance it'll survive.

"We definitely need to keep an eye on it."