Suicidal squirrel, leaping lightning cause problems

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Weather and wildlife woes wreaked minor havoc in Bigfork and Kalispell on Wednesday.

During a storm early Wednesday morning, lightning struck a tree, traveled underground and beneath a Black Bear Lane home and ran into the floor joists.

The Bigfork Fire Department responded at 3:41 a.m.

“I don’t know if it traveled on a root, but they did have a little fire in the floor joists,” Bigfork Fire Chief Wayne Loeffler said. “It burned in a little bit, created some smoke, but never really got going.”

Loeffler said the homeowner put some water on it before firefighters responded, which helped, and that the firefighters put out what was left of the fire in a matter of minutes.

A few hours later in Kalispell, a kamikaze squirrel climbed into a transformer on a Flathead Electric Co-operative utility pole near the intersection of Fourth Street West and Seventh Avenue West, knocking out power for 11 electricity customers.

A Kalispell police officer investigating the outage reported “a barbecued, hairless squirrel appears to be the culprit.”

Flathead Electric Public Relations Officer Wendy Ostrom-Price said power was restored in less than an hour after a fuse and some other pieces of equipment were repaired.

She said squirrels regularly cause problems with the utility’s electrical equipment.

Reporter Jesse Davis may be reached at 758-4441 or by email at jdavis@dailyinterlake.com.

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