CCTV captures car struck by lightning, engulfed by fireball; passengers survive

The moment a pickup truck was struck by a powerful lightning blast was captured on CCTV - showing the car engulfed in a fireball.

CCTV captures car struck by lightning, engulfed by fireball; passengers survive

The moment a pickup truck was struck by a powerful lightning blast was captured on CCTV - showing the car engulfed in a fireball.

"I saw our lives passing in front of our eyes" said Al Perry, who was in the car on Highway 14 in Tofield, Alberta with his wife, Betty.

The blast was so powerful that it left two large craters in the tarmacadam road surface – but left the couple mostly unharmed.

Unfortunately, the electrical charge was not the only danger.

[comment] Al and Betty Perry told CTV News they were trapped inside their vehicle as it filled with smoke.[/comment]

All the car's airbags deployed instantly as the fireball engulfed the truck, melting parts of the exterior.

Smoke then filled the cabin, making it impossible to see, and the electrical system was fried, - possibly locking the car doors, as Al found it impossible to open the doors or windows.

Al said he thought: "this is a coffin".

Unable to kick the windscreen out, the couple were saved from suffocation by an officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who just happened to be passing.

[comment] The blast was so powerful if left two large craters in the road surface.[/comment]

“I’ve never seen anything like that. I’ve seen them off in the distance, hit trees before, but never like that,” Constable Brian Jamont told CTV News.

The constable used his baton to smash the window in.

The Perrys are fortunate they weren't touching any exposed metal surfaces of the car's shell at the time.

It is a commonly-held belief that the rubber tyres of a vehicle insulate the vehicle from a lightning strike, but that's a myth - based on another truth. If lightning strikes the metal body, it still has to reach the ground - through the tyres.

A car, or any metal vehicle, acts as a "Faraday cage" to a lightning strike - a protective structure that carries electricity around the outside of a space, keeping the occupants safe.

But that effect only works so long as the current is carried away from any person inside the structure.

So, if you're ever caught in a storm, the safest thing to do is pull over, switch off the engine and electronics, place your hands in your lap – and wait.

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