SIERRA VISTA — A lightning strike zapped a little too close to City Hall on Wednesday afternoon, leaving some buildings with no phone or Internet service, officials said.
The lightning struck at about 4:30 p.m. during a heavy thunderstorm that lasted about 45 minutes in the area. No one was hurt at City Hall, 1011 Coronado Dr., but the crashing sound of the lightning was obvious, said city spokesman Adam Curtis.
It’s unclear exactly where the giant spark of electricity hit, but Assistant City Manager Victoria Yarbrough said it was “in the vicinity” of where the transfer switch and the backup generator are, damaging both. The equipment is surrounded by a wall located between City Hall and the parking lot.
“Phone services at City facilities are offline and email services are limited,” Curtis said Thursday morning in an email.
The buildings and city properties affected by the outage included City Hall, the police department, the animal shelter on State Road 90, the municipal airport, Vista Transit Center, The Cove, and the city’s sports division, Curtis said.
The one city building spared from the hassle of losing the services was the public library, Yarbrough said, because it’s on a different server.
By 1 p.m. Thursday, the situation had improved at City Hall when “the city’s IT division was able to bring about 90 percent of services back online,” Curtis said.
“We are still assessing any other damage to our infrastructure,” Curtis said. “A crew is coming to work on the backup generator within an hour or so and IT staff is working to bring the other facilities fully back online.”
Calls to 911 were not affected and neither was the city’s website. Curtis said city customers could use the website for online services, but he warned that responses from staff could be delayed.
City Hall remained open even though it was originally thought that it would have to close to enable repairs, Yarbrough said. There were some employees on hand to help the public, she said.
Before lightning wreaked havoc, the city’s IT team had planned on doing maintenance to the server on Saturday, which is still a go, Curtis said. That work will affect the phone lines and registration systems at The Cove and the Sports Division, but both facilities will be open regardless.
Curtis said anyone using those facilities on Saturday who has questions, can call 520-508-5832 for the Sports Division and 520-508-5195 for The Cove. Those numbers are only for use on Saturday, he said.
Also, because the point of sale/register system will be unavailable at both locations, city officials are recommending that patrons bring cash. Cards and checks will still be accepted, however the process will be manual, and may result in longer wait times than normal to access facilities, Curtis said.
Lightning has zapped the area before with “stuff getting knocked out briefly about five or six years ago,” Curtis said.
But it was not as destructive as Wednesday’s display from nature.
“I don’t remember when something like this knocked out our backup service,” Curtis said.