Portland man has heart attack after lightning hits tree outside home

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by KGW Staff

KING5.com

Posted on September 3, 2013 at 8:21 PM

PORTLAND – A Rock Creek man had a heart attack after his home was damaged by a lightning strike Tuesday.

"The tree actually exploded," said neighbor Kellie Kane. "There are bits of tree on the other neighbor's roof on the other side, and it actually dented their gutters."

Electricity from the lightning traveled through a large tree outside Vall Miller's home, into the ground, and then into his home on Northwest Rock Creek Court just after 12:45 a.m.  It also starting a small fire inside, according to a Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue spokesman.

Miller was asleep in the bedroom at the time. He said the thunder shook him from bed and then he noticed smoke coming from his wall.  He uses oxygen for a heart condition but still managed to run to the garage, grab a fire extinguisher and start putting out the flames.

Moments later, Miller said he suffered a heart attack and then his defibrillator brought him back to life. He was rushed to a local hospital where was checked over and released just hours later.

“I’m very blessed and happy to be alive today,” he told KGW. “My wife is okay and our cat lived, too.”

Remarkably, aside from being a bit shaken up, Miller said he feels just fine.

Firefighters said the fire was quickly extinguished.

First responders stationed nearby told KGW they believe they were awakened by the same thunder and lightning strike that damaged Miller's tree.

The lightning strike was part of a larger overnight storm that stretched up and down the Willamette Valley. First Alert Doppler Radar detected hundreds of lightning strikes from Corvallis to Portland as the system moved through the area.

More than 1,000 Portland General Electric customers were without power after the storm Tuesday morning. 

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