POST FALLS - Lightning jolted Post Falls Police's radio communications on Tuesday morning, causing between $30,000 and $50,000 worth of damage, a small fire and forcing a backup system to be used for three hours.
Lightning struck the agency's main communications tower on Blossom Mountain south of Post Falls at 9 a.m., said Chief Scot Haug.
"It was a direct hit and it was so hard that it blew lighting from the tower off, destroyed a transformer and backup generator and started a small fire," Haug said. "We lost several pieces of equipment."
Kootenai County Fire and Rescue was called upon to put out the fire.
The communications site is covered by insurance so the damage won't have to be paid for out of the city's General Fund budget, Haug said.
Communication was restored at noon.
Haug said Post Falls tapped into Kootenai County's emergency radio system during the outage, so no calls were missed.
"This goes to show the importance of backup plans," Haug said. "When they go down, we can back them up and vice-versa. The public didn't even know there was an outage. We're grateful for Kootenai County allowing us to operate on a channel."
Haug said lightning has caused PFPD infrastructure damage in the past, but this was the first time a mountaintop tower has been struck.