PAHOA, Hawaii Island (HawaiiNewsNow) - A lightning strike is being blamed for a power outage at the Puna Geothermal Ventures plant that resulted in a small amount of hydrogen sulfide gas being released.
According to a PGV spokesperson, lightning shut down power, which then caused the release of the gas Tuesday afternoon. Fire crews responded to the plant at about 2 p.m. after a nearby resident reported smelling the tell-tale "rotten egg" odor of the gas. Authorities determined that the amount of gas released was well below levels that would prompt an evacuation.
Meantime, William Hodson, a retired Hawaii County Police officer, was out doing errands, despite the weather.
"It's the lightning. It's crazy," Hodson said. "It started from this morning and it never stopped. The sun never came out. And the thunder was constant, from the very beginning of the morning. Just constant thunder."
When Hodson returned to his home in the Hawaiian Paradise Park subdivision just northwest of Pahoa, he noticed that the power line to his house was down.
"I went into the house and noticed all my picture frames down and shattered glass all over the place, and at first I thought it was like a burglary or something," he said.
But instead of a burglar, it was a bolt of lightning. It's believed it traveled through the house, hitting the roof and exiting through his eldest son's bedroom.
"My son's room is in the back of the house. It blew out of the wall, so all the drywall it out, and you can actually see out from his room," Hodson said, pointing to an area of the wall that the bolt had blasted through.
Hodson also pointed out a shattered sliding glass door. Outside, there was another shattered window, and debris from electrical wiring in the yard. Hodson said most of his electrical system was fried by the lightning.
"My electrical cords just disintegrated, my meter box just burned out," he said. "It's just gone. it just blew out."
Hodson said there was no one home at the time. That's especially lucky, since his son would have been in his bedroom, where the lightning exited
"He had five open heart surgeries, and last week he wasn't feeling good, so if he actually was there, who knows what actually would've happened," Hodson said.