Historic oak torn apart by lightning
Lightning has torn an historic tree to shreds in Burkes Pass, splitting it in half and scattering debris across the area.
The owners of local business Three Creeks, Dave Taylor and Kim Perkins, watched the spectacular event unfold while sitting in their lounge on Tuesday night.
"We were just sitting on the couch looking straight out at it," Mr Taylor said.
"She just went ‘bang', like an electrical explosion, and I saw a red glow."
They said the impact lit up the tree, like it was on fire. Although it did not catch fire, the couple could smell the tree smouldering.
Ms Perkins said lightning struck the tree about 9pm, stripping it of its bark and causing a severe split through the middle. By 11.30pm they could hear it collapsing. "I was in a bushfire in Brisbane many years ago so it brought back those horrific memories," she said.
The oak tree's history spans 136 years, a period in which it has seen more than one explosion.
In the first event a local blacksmith had been experimenting with gunpowder to make a flare.
However, it did not go quite to plan and he emerged with his face blackened and his hair singed.
The event was referred to in a booklet detailing the tree's history.
It also notes how, in its earlier years, "many" pints were poured around the young plant to help it grow.
Mr Taylor said he had been planning to build another blacksmith shop on his property, under the tree, but Mother Nature meant those plans would now be altered slightly.
Although the damage to the tree was irreparable, the couple planned to do what they could to keep its history alive.
"Because it's historic to Burkes Pass, it will have to be kept. We'll maybe make something out of it for the church maybe. It certainly won't be burnt - she'll be kept," Ms Perkins said.
- © Fairfax NZ News