An Albuquerque man who took a video of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge train as it rolled into town Saturday may also have captured the lighting bolt that knocked out power to 10,430 customers in Durango.
Melvin Elliott said he was taking video on his iPhone when a quick flash zapped across the sky. His wife, Madeleine, was standing next to him.
“She said, ‘Hey, did you get that lighting strike?’” Melvin Elliott said.
He looked at the video and could see the bolt apparently touching ground on Animas City Mountain near north Durango.
A timestamp at the top of the video shows 5:29 p.m. Saturday – the same time power was knocked out to most residents and businesses in Durango. The outage, which extended to the Durango-La Plata County Airport, lasted nearly three hours.
Electrical engineers believe a lightning bolt caused the outage at a Tri-State transformer/substation in Bodo Industrial Park, which is south of where the lighting bolt struck.
But the substation doesn’t appear to have been hit by lightning; rather, a bolt may have hit somewhere else and traveled through the lines, said Indiana Reed, spokeswoman for La Plata Electric Association.
“It could have hit somewhere up there (Animas City Mountain) and then sent the voltage down the line,” she said. “That would make sense; I don’t know if we could ever prove it one way or another.”
Railroad Vice President Paul Schrank confirmed a train returned to Durango at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
Elliott said it was the only lightning bolt they saw at the time.
“After that, we started walking up town and were like, ‘Where are all the lights?’”
His wife read about the power outage Monday and asked her husband to check the timestamp on the video. It all checked out.