DURANGO HILLS An early-morning electrical storm played havoc in some parts of La Plata County on Thursday, starting a house fire and causing a rockslide along the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.
Lightning struck the house about 7:50 a.m. at 311 Sage Brush Trail in Durango Hills subdivision, about eight miles northeast of Durango.
At the time, heavy rain was falling throughout the region, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a flash-flood watch. And a damaged rail on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad track near Rockwood is believed to have been caused by a rock that fell from the valleys saturated slopes.
In Durango Hills, the lightning bolt hit a corner of the roof and started a fire, said Dave Imming, spokesman for Durango Fire & Rescue Authority.
The house is owned by Brian and Viki Corbett.
Brian Corbett, who works in the La Plata County Assessors Office, left for work about three minutes before the lightning strike. When he heard it, he said, Wow, that was close, not knowing his house had been struck.
Viki Corbett was at home and dropped to her knees when the boom hit. Scared, she ran to a neighbors house. It smelled like sulfur, she said.
Its been wild up here this summer, Viki Corbett said. Theres been a lot of lightning.
A volunteer firefighter who lives nearby responded to the scene within a couple of minutes. He was able to tell firefighters what resources were needed, Imming said.
Because the emergency call came quickly and people were at the scene quickly, responding crews were able to get the right equipment there promptly, Imming said.
A cathedral-like ceiling was damaged, and light smoke filled parts of the house, Imming said.
There was some exterior damage, he said.
Nisia Lawler, a neighbor, said the jolt blew the cover off an electrical box in the neighborhood.
I would say it was the most simultaneous flash-boom Ive ever experienced, Lawler said. I was sure that it was our house that was hit.
DFRA responded with two engines, four tankers, a medical unit and multiple command vehicles.
Monsoon rains have caused several rockslides this summer along the D&SNG tracks.
A rail on the line was damaged Wednesday night or Thursday morning, apparently by a rock that slid off the slope and hit the track north of the Rockwood station.
The damage caused the first train, which left Durango at 8:15 a.m., to turn back and wait in Rockwood for a couple of hours while the rail was repaired, said Paul Schrank, the railroads vice president and general manager,
Subsequent trains, which left Durango at 9 a.m. and 9:45 a.m., also were delayed.
The damage was discovered about 10 a.m., and it was repaired two hours later, allowing all trains to continue on to Silverton.
Weather forecasters expect some relief from the moisture today and Saturday. But another upswing in moisture is predicted for Sunday and Monday, said Jim Daniels, forecaster with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.
The monsoons typically last through August, but they usually are more intermittent, Daniels said.
This has been going on pretty much unabated for a little more than a week now, he said. We havent seen this kind of monsoon for a while, where its been this long in duration.
shane@ durangoherald.com Herald City Editor Katie Burford contributed to this report.