The Warren County Department of Fire and Rescue Services and the Office of the Fire Marshal have confirmed that a Friday, July 5th fire incident which occurred at 24 Markham Farm Road in the Blue Mountain area of Warren County was a result of a cloud-to-ground contact lighting strike.
Firefighters arrived on the scene and reported smoke evident from the attic area and throughout the first floor of the home. Firefighters forced entry into the home and initiated fire suppression along with search and rescue efforts.
Upon entering the structure, firefighters transmitted a “Mayday Firefighter Down” radio call for two firefighters when the first floor structural members of the floor system collapsed, causing the firefighters to fall through the floor and into basement. Both firefighters were able to self-evacuate from the basement area and were treated on the scene for non-life threatening injuries. Both firefighters were transported to the local center for further evaluation and have since returned to work. After the incident, Fire Chief Richard Mabie ordered a detailed review of this incidents response and action plan and the “near-miss” of two of our emergency responders. As a result, the Office of the Fire Marshal and the WCFR Training Division will complete a WCFR Significant Incident Review and train all members on its findings.
As part of the fire incident investigation, the Warren County Fire Marshal’s Office has been working with the National Weather Service and other weather organizations to perform a detailed look into the lighting strike events due to the significant thunder storms experienced in our area during the evening of July 4th. Fire Marshal Gerry Maiatico stated “It has been determined that between the hours of 4:00 pm and 8:00 pm a total of 95 cloud-to-ground lighting strikes made contact with the ground with in a 3 mile radius of the home. The most significant lightning strike was recorded at 7:33 pm which measured a peak current of 76.9 (kA) and was found to have occurred in the immediate area of the home. This information was obtained by utilizing sophisticated lighting strike/ground contact technology and is consistent with the physical evidence found as part of the fire investigation process.
Fire Chief Richard Mabie stated “while this type of incident is rare and just proves that severe weather advisories and warnings should be taken seriously whenever issued by the National Weather Service.”
According to the National Weather Service; a thunderstorm is considered severe if it produces hail at least 1 inch in diameter or has wind gusts of at least 58 miles per hour. Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which kills more people some years than tornadoes or hurricanes. Heavy rain from thunderstorms can cause flash flooding. High winds can damage homes and blow down trees and utility poles, causing widespread power outages. Every year people are killed or seriously injured because they didn’t hear or ignored severe thunderstorms warnings.
By following these severe weather and lighting safety tips, you can reduce the risk of injury and could even save your life:
• Listen to local news, NOAA Weather Radio or monitor social media for emergency updates. Watch for signs of a storm, like darkening skies, lightning flashes or increasing wind.
• If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning. If thunder roars, go indoors! Don’t wait for rain. Lightning can strike out of a clear blue sky. Avoid electrical equipment and corded telephones. Cordless phones, cell phones and other wireless handheld devices are safe to use.
• Keep away from windows and doors.
• If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends.
• If you are outside and cannot reach a safe building, avoid high ground; water; tall, isolated trees; and metal objects such as fences or bleachers. Picnic shelters, dugouts and sheds are NOT safe.
• Avoid open fields, the top of a hill or a ridge top.
• Stay away from tall, isolated trees or other tall objects. If you are in a forest, stay near a lower stand of trees.
• If you are in a group, spread out to avoid the current traveling between group members.
• If you are camping in an open area, set up camp in a valley, ravine or other low area. Remember, a tent offers NO protection from lighting.
• Stay away from water, wet items, such as ropes, and metal objects, such as fences and poles. Water and metal do not attract lightning but they are excellent conductors of electricity. The current from a lightning flash will easily travel for long distances.
Congratulations to Warren County High School Seniors – Class of 2020
Royal Examiner presents the Warren County High School Class of 2020. Congratulations to these wonderful seniors on their hard work and deserved accomplishments! We wish you the best in your next big endeavors. Photos courtesy of the Victor O’Neill Studios.
“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”
“The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.”
“Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”
—Martin Luther King Jr.
“The highest result of education is tolerance.”
“The most important thing in your life is to live your life with integrity and to not give into peer pressure to try to be something that you’re not.”
“Graduation is not the end; it’s the beginning.”
—Senator Orrin Hatch
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
“The fireworks begin today. Each diploma is a lighted match. Each one of you is a fuse.”
“There are no regrets in life. Just lessons.”
“Kid, you’ll move mountains.”
“Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions.”
“Every person you meet knows something you don’t; learn from them.”
—H Jackson Brown Jr.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.”
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”
—Henry David Thoreau
“The most rewarding things in life are often the ones that look like they cannot be done.”
“If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint,” then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”
—Vincent Van Gogh
“If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.”
“You have to dance a little bit before you step out into the world each day, because it changes the way you walk.”
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
“I encourage you to live with life. Be courageous, adventurous. Give us a tomorrow, more than we deserve.”
Get busy living or get busy dying.”
“Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.”
“Things turn out best for people who make the best out of the way things turn out.”
“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.”
—William Arthur Ward
“Love the life you live. Live the life you love.”
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.”
It’s burned up – forget it: Call dad and tell him his truck is toast in Front Royal
Mid-afternoon, Thursday, June 25, a vehicle fire was reported in the parking lot of the commercial strip anchored by Anthony’s Pizza on the 100 block of South Royal Avenue. First responders from Warren County Fire & Rescue and the Front Royal Police Department found a pickup truck with West Virginia tags parked on the street side of the lot with an engine fire engaged and no occupants apparent.
This reporter arrived after the fire had been extinguished and only one town police unit remained at the scene. That officer pointed out a thick fluid trail that appeared to run from the 1993 Ford Ranger pickup through a portion of the parking lot, perhaps indicating a fluid leak as a source or consequence of the engine fire.
Our inquiry to responding agencies led to information from the FRPD Public Information Department’s Jessica Racer, who told us, “The incident was a vehicle fire, not arson and not suspicious in nature. The owner’s name is Roger Haines in Hampshire County (West Virginia).”
FRPD Captain Crystal Cline later told Royal Examiner that the truck’s owner was contacted by running the tags and requesting Hampshire County authorities to contact him. That route was required because apparently the truck’s driver and a passenger left the scene without ever making contact with local authorities, first responders, or potentially impacted businesses in the commercial strip.
Captain Cline reported that Mr. Haines “advised that the vehicle was not stolen, and he had given his daughter permission to drive the vehicle” and that he was “aware that the vehicle was broken down” and “had already contacted a towing company” about recovering it.
This scenario seems to confirm information from a witness to the vehicle fire who told a Royal Examiner source that the vehicle’s occupants, described as a man and woman, left the scene on foot without contacting responders about their connection to the vehicle. According to the witness, the pair left the truck cab locked as they exited it with the engine smoking before walking to the adjacent Jack Evans Chevrolet lot to watch at distance as responders arrived to extinguish the developing engine fire. Eventually, they left the scene on foot down South Royal Avenue without any apparent contact with authorities, the witness reported.
That’s a long hitchhike back to Hampshire County – no time to waste apparently.
Music park at Burrell Brooks, Jr. Community Park ribbon cutting ceremony
On Friday, June 26, 2020, citizens, friends and family, Parks and Recreation Commission members, Warren County Board of Supervisors members, and County Administrator Doug Stanley gathered to welcome Dr. Lorraine LeHew Hultquist’s generous gift to Burrell Brooks, Jr. Community Park.
This is Dr. Hultquist’s third music park donation to the Warren County park system. In 2017, Ms. Hultquist suggested the idea of adding a music park to one of the County’s facilities after visiting similar parks in Utah and Oregon, and the County celebrated the first music park addition at Rockland Park in November 2017. The following year, a second music park addition was built in Lions Park.
In late 2019, Dr. Lorraine LeHew Hultquist donated the new Deluxe Collection music system to be installed at Burrell Brooks, Jr. Community Park. The mixed quartet offers a musical experience for all through a specially designed ensemble that delivers a variety of sound qualities and pitch ranges. The equipment is multi-generational, interactive, durable, and perfectly tuned. Everyone, regardless of age or ability, can play. Her generous support of the music parks will allow our community to enjoy the enrichment of music and will inspire future musicians.
At the ribbon cutting, long-time Warren County Parks and Recreation Commission member Ron Harvey provided a history of the Commission, recreation in the community, and how the generosity of the community has allowed the parks to flourish.
Board of Supervisors Vice Chair and South River District Supervisor Cheryl Cullers noted the importance of music in the development of children, who will now have the opportunity to enjoy this park and its new addition donated by Dr. Lorraine LeHew Hultquist. She added, “The addition of this music equipment to Burrell Brooks Park will, I believe, give the children of the community at an early age, access to music as an avenue to hopefully start a lifelong love of music, as well as to have the experience to exercise their own creative musical talents.”
The Warren County Parks and Recreation Department is very grateful for Dr. Hultquist’s generous gifts to our local parks for the benefit of all citizens. County Administrator Doug Stanley, noting her previous donations, stated, “I would like to personally thank Lorraine for her kind and generous monetary gift for this magnificent music park for all of Warren County patrons to enjoy and for her support of the entire Parks and Recreation system. It is truly fitting that she is honored today for her gracious and kind gift!”
Three words: The test of liberty or tyranny
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Since 1776 when those words were written in the Declaration of Independence, the world has seen kings and tyrants who, fooling men with their sweet-sounding philosophies, tried to steal their rights and liberty, and many times succeeded.
Yet, in this famous sentence, Thomas Jefferson gives us three words that are the test for tyranny:
The Creator gives rights to men and women as a gift — an endowment — what the dictionary calls a ‘fund for permanent support.’ No man gives these rights to people, for these rights are already theirs. No king can decide which people get to exercise these rights because each person has been given the free gift of these permanent rights, not one more than another.
These obvious rights, given as a permanent gift from God, cannot be taken away by any person, and neither can a man surrender his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Town Talk: A conversation with Tim Ratigan – support our local law enforcement officers
In this Town Talk, our publisher Mike McCool speaks with Tim Ratigan. Tim has started a movement in our community to support our local law enforcement officers from the Front Royal Police Department and the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. Our local law enforcement officers serve to defend the freedom, fairness, and individual liberties that our forefathers fought and died. These brave men and women risk their lives every day to maintain a civil society and the rule of law.
On Friday evening, July 3rd, another group of community supporters are meeting at the Gazebo in Front Royal from 5 pm to 7:30 pm. Come show your appreciation, support, and respect for local Law Enforcement, Fire, and Emergency Personnel along with the flag of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA! This is a free informal gathering for those interested in showing their support and to say thanks.
No frills, nothing more than thank you to those men and women who serve our community. You are free to wear a mask, practice distancing, bring “Old Glory” (lots of them), bring a lounge chair, sing the National Anthem, God Bless America, etc, stroll along Main Street, which will be closed to vehicle traffic for outdoor dining and shopping. Come and enjoy yourselves and be thankful for those who simply wish to “Serve and Protect”.
Town Talk is a series on the Royal Examiner where we will introduce you to local entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profit leaders, and political figures who influence Warren County. Topics will be varied but hopefully interesting. If you have an idea, topic, or want to hear from someone in our community, let us know. Send your request to news@RoyalExaminer.com
Front Royal Unites seeks teamwork with Warren County School Board
Two organizers of Front Royal Unites, a newly formed nonprofit working for the lawful and equal treatment of all races and ethnic groups, on Wednesday, requested that the Warren County School Board work with the organization to address any racial disparities in Warren County Public Schools (WCPS).
A few of the School Board members agreed that the group’s request was reasonable and warranted.
“The reason we have come to you today is that in the past… we’ve had some racial disparities that we’ve experienced within the school system,” said Stevi Hubbard of Front Royal Unites.
Hubbard reminded board members that she previously appeared before the School Board to raise related topics, and told them during their Wednesday, July 1 meeting that the board has not addressed those concerns “in any way shape or form, which is pretty upsetting.”
Since her earlier visits, Hubbard said data has been collected on how students feel like they are being disproportionately punished or not included in certain programming based on color. And she noted that racial slurs have been painted on school buildings.
“We hope we can work with you on these issues this year, and we would like to see those changes made this year,” said Hubbard, adding that she doesn’t want to have her child or other students and staff attending school and seeing racist comments or graffiti on school properties.
“It is our hope that you will take us seriously now,” said Hubbard, pointing out to the School Board that Front Royal Unites now has 2,500 members supporting the group.
Samuel Porter, the spokesman for Front Royal Unites and a 2011 graduate of Skyline High School, said he wanted to ensure that “we’re all very cognizant” about the racial comments that sometimes might be made at school or online.
“There are some bad people. We are just trying to make sure that our students are going to safe environments, and they don’t have to worry based on what they look like on the outside,” Porter told School Board members during the community participation segment of their regular meeting on Wednesday.
Warren County School Board member James Wells, who represents the Happy Creek District, told the Front Royal Unites representatives that he was on board with their request.
“Whatever you need,” Wells told them. “I’ll give you my phone number. I’ll give you my emails. I would be glad to meet with you at any time because your cause is just, and I’d be more than happy to work with you.”
School Board Chairman Arnold Williams, Jr., agreed. “As Mr. Wells said, we will work with you guys,” he told Porter and Hubbard.
Formed in May, Front Royal Unites in June quickly organized and held two local peaceful civil rights marches.
Porter and Hubbard also recently spoke during the June 22 Front Royal Town Council meeting, where they applauded Front Royal Police Chief Kahle Magalis and the department for proactively working with the group to support those marches.
“We come to the table very peacefully… to build bridges, not burn them,” Porter told the council members.
To hear the comments given by the Front Royal Unites organizers during the School Board meeting, watch the Royal Examiner video below.