07/24/2014 11:55AM

Lightning strikes tree at Saratoga


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – About a dozen flat-screen televisions and the same number of picnic tables were damaged when lightning struck and toppled parts of a tree following the races Wednesday at Saratoga. Fortunately, no people were in the area.

The lightning also destroyed a hot dog stand and knocked out power to a backyard mutuel bay.

The lightning strike came just before 6 p.m. Wednesday, about 40 minutes after the final race. Debris from the 100-foot-tall tree covered a 100-square-foot area, according to John Durso Jr., a spokesman for the New York Racing Association. The tree was located in the backyard picnic area, not far from the Big Red Spring.

NYRA officials on Thursday were attempting to replace the dozen 39-inch televisions and had already brought in some new picnic tables. Remaining portions of the tree had been removed, and the area was replaced with sod. A hot dog stand was moved inside an adjacent tent.

“You can replace a tree, you can replace a picnic bench, you can replace a hot dog stand, but you can’t replace a life,” Durso said. “God was looking down on us, and we’re grateful no one was hurt.”