2 killed by lightning strike while cleaning up Hurricane Isaias debris in North Carolina

The two men were trying to cut down trees when they were fatally struck

Two men who had survived Hurricane Isaias when it made landfall in North Carolina on Tuesday died the next day after they were struck by lightning while cleaning storm debris, officials said.

It happened around 11:49 a.m. in Wilmington, near Bradley Creek, according to the Wilmington Police Department.

"The two male victims were struck while trying to cut down trees," police tweeted.

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Authorities later identified the two men as homeowner Ralph Thomas Wallace, 77, and his friend, Moo Saw Kefauver, 42.

Two men who survived Hurricane Isaias as it made landfall in North Carolina died on Wednesday after they were struck by lightning while cleaning storm debris, according to officials. Trees can be seen damaged off North Landing road near the court house in Virginia Beach, Va.

Two men who survived Hurricane Isaias as it made landfall in North Carolina died on Wednesday after they were struck by lightning while cleaning storm debris, according to officials. Trees can be seen damaged off North Landing road near the court house in Virginia Beach, Va. (L. Todd Spencer/The Virginian-Pilot via AP)

The lightning strike on Wednesday also damaged a house next door on Bradley Overlook Road, where a small fire in the attic broke out, the Port City Daily reported.

No injuries were reported with the blaze, according to the paper.

A man walks past a damaged house with a chainsaw in the Riverview neighborhood of Suffolk, Va., after Hurricane Isaias moved through the region Tuesday, August 4, 2020.

A man walks past a damaged house with a chainsaw in the Riverview neighborhood of Suffolk, Va., after Hurricane Isaias moved through the region Tuesday, August 4, 2020. (Jonathon Gruenke/The Daily Press via AP)

Wilmington Police said that the incident was a reminder that it's not just hurricanes that can pose a threat.

Oak Island sustained wind and flood damage caused by Hurricane Isaias leaving the streets strewn with debris and covered with more than a foot of sand in areas close to the beach Tuesday, August 4, 2020, in North Carolina.

Oak Island sustained wind and flood damage caused by Hurricane Isaias leaving the streets strewn with debris and covered with more than a foot of sand in areas close to the beach Tuesday, August 4, 2020, in North Carolina. (Travis Long/The News & Observer via AP)

“An everyday thunderstorm can be deadly,” spokesperson Jessica Williams with the Wilmington Police Department told WECT-TV. “We also had a wreck on Carolina Beach Road today due to careless and reckless driving during a storm. We urge people to please be careful and not underestimate the weather.”

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The deaths on Wednesday were the first lightning deaths in North Carolina since August 23, 2019, according to John Jensenius, a lightning safety specialist with the National Lightning Safety Council (NLSC).

The state of North Carolina ranks among the top 10 states with the greatest number of lightning fatalities.

A breakdown of lightning fatalities across the U.S. from 2010 to 2019.

A breakdown of lightning fatalities across the U.S. from 2010 to 2019. (National Lightnight)

Between 2010 to 2019, the Tarheel state had 12 deaths recorded.

Overall in the U.S., there have now been 12 lightning fatalities for 2020. Based on the past 10 years, the U.S typically averages 18 lightning deaths through August 5, according to Jensenius.

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While most have listened to slogans such as "when thunder roars, go indoors," there are still major misconceptions about lightning safety.

Jensenius told Fox News in June he's found that people still believe lightning is still attracted toward metal and that people also misjudge their distance from approaching storms, thinking that the lightning rise may be much further away than it actually is.

"They are in danger as soon as they hear a distant rumble of thunder," he said.

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Hurricane Isaias made landfall near Ocean Isle Beach, N.C. around 11:10 p.m. on Monday night with 85 mph winds, before rocketing northward as it was downgraded to a tropical storm.

Relatives of a woman who was injured when a suspected tornado ripped through the area southeast of Windsor, N.C. sort through the rubble on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020.

Relatives of a woman who was injured when a suspected tornado ripped through the area southeast of Windsor, N.C. sort through the rubble on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020. (Julia Wall/The News & Observer via AP)

The storm's wicked winds that triggered tornadoes, downed trees, and floodwaters have left at least 9 dead, including a 5-year-old girl in Pennsylvania.

Some 2.7 million still remain without power.