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  • Lightning kills 45 head of cattle on ranch near Darby

    By Kevin Maki, KECI Reporter, kmaki@keci.com
    Published On: Jul 22 2014 06:56:16 PM MDT
    Updated On: Jul 22 2014 09:54:02 PM MDT
    DARBY, Mont. -

    The video for this story may not be suitable for all viewers. It contains disturbing pictures.

    It happened on a ranch near Darby in the late evening hours of July 14.

    Forty-five head of cattle were struck and killed by lightning, devastating the majority of a rancher's herd.

    Reached by phone out-of-state, Darby rancher Jean Taylor said, "There was lots of thunder that night, lots of lightning."

    She said she didn't know it struck her cows, calves and a prized bull until the next morning when her rancher found them bunched together under crabapple trees.

    Darby Marshal Larry Rose said, "45 of them were piled up, under short, little trees."

    He said there were "taller trees around there, but the lightning chose to hit the smaller trees."

    Cattle often bunch together under trees in bad weather.

    Jean Taylor told us only 11 of her prized herd survived.

    "It was disgusting," said Rose. "I felt so sorry. It was unbelievable to see that many cows piled up in one bunch. It was a tremendous loss."

    The financial loss of these cattle could be in the tens of thousands of dollars.

    Craig Britton from the Missoula Livestock Exchange said cow-calf pairs are selling from $2,500 to $3,000 per pair."

    That doesn't even count the loss of future offspring when the breeding cows were killed.

    Darby can be a hot spot for lightning.

    Besides the livestock tragedy, a couple years ago, several people were struck by lightning at a rodeo in Darby.

  • Lightning ruptures gas line, starts fire near Missoula home

    By Matt Gray, Meteorologist/Reporter, mgray@keci.com
    Published On: Jul 23 2014 07:23:39 AM MDT
    Updated On: Jul 23 2014 07:13:25 PM MDT
    MISSOULA, Mont. -

    One Missoula neighborhood found out first-hand the power of lightning early Wednesday morning, when a bolt hit a tree on Jake Court in the South Hills. In the nearby house were Casey McNellis, his wife and their three children. They were jolted from their sleep at around 3 a.m.

    "We heard a big big boom. Loudest noise I've heard around here.  My wife ran out, and saw out in her backyard that there was a fire right next to the tree," said McNellis.

    Lightning is one of the most powerful forces in nature. When it strikes, it burns hotter than the sun and can jump from one object to the next, as McNellis was soon going to find out.

    In the moments after the strike, neighbors woken by the thunderclap raced to help. They brought five-gallon buckets full of water and even a fire extinguisher.

    They had the fire under control before the fire department even arrived, thanks to the fire extinguisher. However, the fire behaved so strangely, that McNellis could tell the strike damaged more than just the tree. Below the tree was a gas line, which had ruptured and was feeding fuel to the fire.

    "We noticed that when we were trying to put the fire out it kept coming back," said McNellis. "That was kind of indicative that maybe there was some gas involved. Shortly after that we all smelled the gas a little bit."

    That wasn't all that was damaged -- the air conditioning, the satellite TV and cable services were all down, fried by the electric surge.

    McNellis knows he's lucky that the gas leak didn't get out of control.

    "It could have been worse," he said. "It could have gotten in the house...and you know, luckily it didn't. The most important thing is that the kids are safe."

    NorthWestern Energy dug out the gas line Wednesday morning and quickly repaired the damage. The new hole in the McNellis' yard was covered by noon.

  • Lightning kills 45 head of cattle near Darby

    By Associated Press
    Published On: Jul 22 2014 08:36:08 AM MDT
    Missoula lightning 6/11/14

    Barb Dwyer

    DARBY, Mont. -

    A bolt of lightning killed 45 head of cattle on a ranch near Darby.
    Rancher Jean Taylor says the cows, calves and a prize bull were crowded under some small crabapple trees on July 14 when the lighting struck.
    Taylor says the clap of thunder awakened her at 10:28 p.m.
    Taylor says the family spent years building their herd of Black Angus cattle, and now they only have eight to 10 cows left.
    Two days earlier, lightning struck a power pole at the Darby rodeo grounds during a rainstorm, sending a shock through the grandstands, rodeo chutes and bull pens. A bull rider and two spectators were taken to the hospital. Bull-O-Rama Chairman Carl Ruark says all three were alert when they were loaded into ambulances.

  • Fruit recall at Walmart, Costco

    By By Jacque Wilson CNN
    Published On: Jul 22 2014 08:00:33 AM MDT
    Updated On: Jul 22 2014 02:41:12 AM MDT

    Rich Brooks/CNN

    (CNN) -

    If you've picked up fruit at Costco, Trader Joe's, Kroger or Walmart stores recently, this may affect you.

    Wawona Packing Co. is voluntarily recalling peaches, nectarines, plums and pluots that were packed at its Cutler, California, warehouses between June 1 and July 12. Wawona believes the products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

    Costco, Trader Joe's, Kroger and Walmart, which also operates Sam's Club stores, have all posted notices about the fruit recall on their websites. So have grocery chains Ralphs and Food 4 Less. The recall is nationwide, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

    Consumers should look for a sticker on their fruit that says "SWEET 2 EAT," according to the recall warnings.

    Internal testing at Wawona revealed the potential listeria contamination, the company says. Listeria was found on on two nectarines and one peach. It is not yet clear how they became contaminated. The facility was shut down and sanitized, and subsequent tests have been negative for the bacteria.

    "We are aware of no illnesses related to the consumption of these products," Wawona President Brent Smittcamp said in a statement. "By taking the precautionary step of recalling product, we will minimize even the slightest risk to public health, and that is our priority."

    Trader Joe's has urged customers not to eat any of these stone fruits -- meaning fruits with large pits -- and to return them to a nearby store for a full refund.

    In addition, Wegmans has recalled several of its baked goods that contain fruit from Wawona Packing Co. This includes cakes, pies, tarts and other pastries. For a full list, see FDA.gov.

    Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium that can cause listeriosis. The most common symptoms of listeriosis are gastrointestinal issues (such as diarrhea), fever and muscle aches. Pregnant women, infants, older adults and people with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk for a more serious infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    If you have already eaten one of the recalled products and begin to feel ill, see your doctor and tell him or her about the recall.

    "Your doctor will make a diagnosis and should report any positive test findings for Listeria monocytogenes to public health authorities, who will then report it to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," Wawona states in an FAQ about the recall.

    The CDC estimates about 1,600 illnesses and 260 deaths are caused by listeriosis each year in the United States. Overall, outbreaks have been on the decline since 2001, but the largest in U.S. history occurred in 2011. Cantaloupes from a farm in Colorado sickened 147 people and killed nearly three dozen. The farmers responsible recently were sentenced to five years' probation, including six months of in-home detention.

  • Wildfire reported in Deep Creek area west of Missoula

    By KECI Staff
    Published On: Jul 23 2014 02:06:53 PM MDT
    Updated On: Jul 23 2014 09:25:18 PM MDT
    MISSOULA, Mont. -

    Fire crews along with local engines and air support are battling the Cyr Gulch Creek Fire, reported around 1 p.m. Wednesday.

    It is burning about 5 miles due south of Frenchtown on private timber land in the Deep Creek area, in an area between Bear Gulch and Cyr Gulch, north of Deep Creek Road and west of the Clark Fork River.

    At last report, the fire is burning an estimated 20 acres with no containment at this time. The blaze is wind-driven and making some runs up north slopes. Fire officials report it is exhibiting "very active fire behavior with torching and spotting."

    A second fire to the south was also detected Wednesday, and crews are also working to fight it.

    Crews anticipate working through the night and Thursday at the site of the blaze.

    The fire is producing smoke visible from Missoula and the surrounding area.

    No structures are threatened at this time.

    Officials are asking people to stay away from the Deep Creek area as crews work to control the blaze.

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  • Brooke's First Alert Video Forecast

    A large part of the day will include ample sunshine which will warm our temperatures into the upper 80s to mid 90s. By late afternoon, clouds and storms will develop with the threat of strong storms until 10pm tonight.

  • Mark Heyka's First Alert Video Forecast

    A few showers and storms are possible Tuesday evening, with a chance of severe thunderstorms Wednesday afternoon across parts of western Montana.

  • Joe Domitrovich

    Joe Domitrovich of the Technology and Development Center is discussing the nutritional needs of firefighters.