May 12, 2014

Storm dumps heavy rain in DFW, lightning sparks fires

Two Fort Worth firefighters were injured Monday afternoon fighting a house fire that appeared to have been ignited by lightning.

Thunderstorms pounded North Texas on Monday afternoon, knocking out power, causing flash flooding in some areas and carrying lightning that caused several fires, including one in Fort Worth in which two firefighters were injured.

The storm, which arrived about 3 p.m., dumped a welcome 0.31 inch of rain at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, the official recording station for the National Weather Service. It had moved on by about 7 p.m., the weather service said

Star-Telegram rain reporters turned in totals of 3 inches in Crowley to almost 2 inches in Granbury. In Fort Worth, the TCU area received just over an inch, and the Wedgwood neighborhood had just over 2 inches. Many locations in Arlington received an inch of rain, and rainfall totals were under an inch in many areas of Northeast Tarrant County.

The injured Fort Worth firefighters, Deglen Isbell and Gino Agnello, were in the attic of a two-story house in the 12800 block of Campolina Way in far north Fort Worth when they fell about 20 feet through ceilings to the first floor, said Tim Hardeman, a Fire Department spokesman.

Isbell landed on breathing apparatus strapped to his back and injured his back. Agnello broke his arm, Hardeman said.

“Both firefighters will be admitted to the hospital,” Hardeman said. “It is unknown how long they will be hospitalized.”

The fire was reported shortly before 4 p.m., and lightning was the likely cause, Hardeman said.

Two house fires in south Arlington may also have been started by lightning, Arlington fire Lt. Lee Tovar said.

Fort Worth firefighters helped several motorists stranded on flooded streets, Hardeman said.

At the peak of the storms, 22,531 electricity customers in Tarrant County were without power, according to the Oncor Electric Delivery website. The number was 19,638 in Dallas County. By Monday night, the number was reduced to 6,259 in Tarrant County and 11,146 in Dallas.

At Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, 108 departures were canceled, and about 40 inbound flights were diverted to other airports for a short time, airport officials said.

The thunderstorms accompanied a cold front that arrived Monday afternoon.

“This is an unseasonably strong cold front,” said Ted Ryan, a meteorologist with the weather service office in Fort Worth. “It snowed in Denver.”

There’s a 20 percent chance of showers today, but they won’t amount to a whole lot, Ryan said.

“It won’t be a big soaking rain,” he said.

But temperatures are expected to drop significantly, Ryan said.

“We’ll wake up in the 50s and top off tomorrow in the mid-60s,” he said. “Tuesday and Wednesday nights will be in the upper 40s.”

Those won’t set records, Ryan said. “For May 13, the coldest high we’ve had is 54 in 1953. The record low was 43 in 1971.”

But as welcome as the promise of rain is to many, Ryan said it gets better.

“The really good news is it looks like nice weather Wednesday through the weekend,” he said. “It’s getting warmer each day, into the 70s Wednesday and Thursday, and in the 80s by Friday and the weekend.”

Staff writer Terry Evans contributed to this report.

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