Lighting strikes, killing pet doves and destroying property


By Heather Ruppe

Lighting strikes from recent thunderstorms caused two different fires in Walterboro last week, with one of those fires killing more than a dozen doves that were living in a storage shed.

On Thursday, July 14th, at least one confirmed lighting strike hit a metal storage building off of Nunuville Road. At about 3 p.m., firefighters were called to the area, as equipment inside that storage shed began to explode: the shed was filled with three 55-gallon drums filled with diesel, lawn mowers, power equipment and hand tools. There were also several bird cages inside that storage shed. At least 15 doves and several ducks were being kept inside those cages. All of the animals died in the fire, according to Barry McRoy, chief of Colleton County Fire-Rescue.

“Firefighter-paramedics used multiple hand lines to extinguish the fire, and they kept the flames from reaching other outside buildings and the residence that was on the property,” said McRoy. “The cause appears to have been a lightning strike from a thunderstorm that was passing through the area,” he said.

In addition to the metal storage building that caught fire, a hunting lodge on Hendersonville Highway was also destroyed by fire on July 12th. People who were attending a church service next door to the hunting lodge spotted smoke coming from the building and then alerted the owner of the hunting lodge. The owner then called 911. According to McRoy, firefighter and paramedics arrived minutes later and found smoke pouring out of the eaves of the wooden building.

“The owner used a garden hose on the fire, prior to the fire units arriving,” he said.

According to McRoy, the fire burned through the walls of the hunting lodge. To help stop the fire, firefighters used a chainsaw to remove a part of the wall and then extinguish the flames.

“The building and most of the contents were saved, but the building received fire, smoke and water damage,” said McRoy.

This fire started from an electrical shortage, said McRoy.

Both of these fires come as state leaders upgraded Colleton County’s drought status last week, saying the county’s dry conditions, high humidity and lack of consistent rain are causing more risk for fires. The upgraded drought status also means that farms in Colleton County have drier soil, threatening the status of fall crops, according to state leaders.