By Drew Moody
Witnesses describing the Friday morning lightning
strike gave accounts resembling a mild earthquake.
The hands of the clock atop the administration building
are frozen at about 10:15 a.m. The impact was felt
throughout the entire historic structure.
Security and fire alarms automatically activated resulting
in an hour-long evacuation. Phone services campus-wide
were shut down throughout the day.
A mid-afternoon e-mail indicated Verizon expected
phone services to be restored late Friday.
Tremors rippling invisibly across campus impacted
structures at distances of 100 yards or more. Air conditioning
units in the gym shut down and are believed to have
sustained damage from either a separate "strike" or a
cascading system overload.
At least one employee witnessed the event, according
to Tom Ratliff, director of maintenance and building
"He saw a huge ball of fire rolling down the front of
the administration building," Ratliff said.
Ratliff believes the lightning followed two thick
copper ground wires on either side of the clock tower
creating the illusion of fire.
No fires were reported although the clock motor
Maintenance crews and technicians working in an
adjoining building were at the scene almost immediately.
"Fire watch" services - roving patrols - were
activated until a fire and security equipment technician
arrived from Ohio. He gave the all-clear to that equipment
late Friday afternoon.
College offices remained open Friday.
Ratliff continued to oversee ongoing trouble-shooting
early Friday evening. He believes the full extent of damage
may take some time to sort out.
By Monday, for the most part, the expectation is business