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Straight-line winds bring damage, lightning sparks two house fires

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 This tree that was blown over by a severe thunderstorm on Monday night landed on top of this pickup truck belonging to Southern STARRS, a therapeutic horseback riding program for special needs children and adults. Southern STARRS is located on Cairo Bend Road.

KATIE HOLMES / The Wilson Post

By JENNIFER HORTONThe Wilson Post

Wilson County escaped relatively unscathed from the severe thunderstorms that moved through the Middle Tennessee region Monday night, although downed trees caused some damage and two house fires caused by lightning did occur.

There were no reports of injuries as a result of the bad weather.

“There were no reports of structural damage,” said John Jewell, director of Wilson County Emergency Management Agency. He added that WEMA personnel were expecting some kind of damage based on reports from the weather service regarding the path and strength of the storm system.

The damage was caused by straight-line winds, Jewell said, noting that a funnel cloud was reported west of Highway 109 and another one near Academy Road, but neither ever touched the ground. Personnel watching the weather radar at WEMA headquarters on Oak Street in Lebanon saw a marker appear indicating circulation in the clouds, but again, nothing touched the ground.

Most of the wind damage occurred in an area along Cairo Bend Road, behind Five Oaks and The Forest, he said.

The strong winds blew down a large tree at the farm of Terry and Saranne Winfield which landed on top of two pickup trucks, completely destroying them. Saranne Winfield is the executive director of Southern STARRS, a therapeutic horseback riding program for special needs children and adults which operates in a barn on their farm. One of the trucks belonged to Southern STARRS and the other belonged to the couple and was often used for hauling hay for the horses.

“One large tree on the right side of our home was completely uprooted,” she said, and landed “on both trucks. They were both totaled.”

Insurance will not cover the damage, either, Winfield said. Automobile insurance will not cover the trucks, especially the one used by Southern STARRS, because she noted the organization was advised to drop its comprehensive coverage on the vehicle because of the added expense. Both trucks are more than 10 years old. “It’s quite a site.”

Homeowner’s insurance “will not cover anything on the tree because it didn’t hit the house,” she added.

Even so, Winfield said, they were not hurt and neither were the horses which were in the barn at the time the storm hit. She said they left the barn doors open as a precaution so the wind could blow through.

As for the tree, Winfield said it was the only large tree in that part of the property and from that point on there was pasture. She and her husband have lived there for about 20 years and the tree was there longer. “It was quite a piece of wind that hit it. It was a healthy tree.”

Jewell said winds of up to 70 mph were expected with the thunderstorm Monday night, but WEMA recorded a gust of 32 mph during the storm.

There were two house fires caused by lightning strikes, he said, but there were not serious.

One of them occurred at a home on Wilson Boat Dock Road in Northwest Wilson County, and that one presented some difficulty for firefighters to respond to because of trees and power lines that had been blown down and were across the road blocking their access. Firefighters had to work their way carefully to the home, but Jewell said the fire was not serious and was under control when they arrived.

The other fire occurred at a home on Big Springs Road near Tuckers Crossroads, east of Lebanon. An air conditioning unit had been struck by lightning, he said. Firefighters pulled the breakers at the home, and no serious damage was reported.

Some off-duty personnel were put on standby as a precaution, Jewell said, in case the weather situation took a turn for the worse.

Editor Jennifer Horton may be contacted at news@wilsonpost.com.

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