MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Severe thunderstorms that ripped through the Combat Center and the city of Twentynine Palms throughout the past weekend caused flooding and power outages and snarled traffic.
On July 24, base personnel and residents witnessed several lightning strikes including one that struck a power pole on Third Street just a few feet from the 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment barracks.
The strike set the pole afire. As flames trickled down to the wet ground it spread to a truck parked nearby. The flames consumed the vehicle leaving behind the remains of a charred truck and damaging the left side of another truck next to it.
Combat Center firefighters were able to put out the blaze in 21 minutes-just in time to save several cars parked nearby.
Combat Center firefighter, Brent Gregory, was on scene during the fire.
"Basically we were standing off due to the fact that there was a live power line on top of the vehicles still charged," said Gregory. "We couldn't dump water on the fire cause we didn't want to get a charge of electricity thrown back at us. We didn't want to injure any firefighters. We were on scene for two hours because we had to wait for facilities maintenance to arrive. They had a delay getting through the front gate."
The main gate was closed because of downed power lines. All traffic was diverted to Condor Gate.
On Saturday, a microburst, or a funnel cloud, landed in Twentynine Palms knocking down power lines and tearing roofs of several homes. The mini tornado knocked down six power poles causing sporadic power outages and sent a trampoline flying into the air only to crash into a transformer pole.
The National Weather Service said one-and-a-half inches of rain fell Sunday afternoon in Twentynine Palms within an hour. On the average, Twentynine Palms receives about two to six inches of rainfall annually.
The rainfall provided no relief to a city that has already seen days of rain so far this year. Already saturated from previous rainfall, the ground could not handle the additional rain.
In addition, severe flooding caused running water on flat ground and several cars stalled in the water.
The rain and humidity did however provide relief to a city that has seen weeks of triple-digit temperatures up to 122 degrees.