31 July, 1987
Lightning levels garage, car
By Barbara Preston
“Look what happen to my garage,” Alberto Petrella exclaimed.
A stray bolt of lightning zapped the Petra.’ two-car garage during Sunday’s turbulent thunderstorm. leaving behind charred pieces of wood, the cinder block foundation and the steel skeleton of their 1979 Chevrolet Caprice-Classic.
Mr. Petrella’s wife, Vera, was in the kitchen of their home. which is located on the grounds of the Princeton Day School, preparing lunch for her husband when she heard a very loud thunderous boom.
“My head couldn’t take it.” Mrs. Petrella added.
Mr. Petrella, the school’s grounds keeper, had just turned off the television in his living room because the cable was out, he said.
A split second later, their home became very bright.
“It looked like the sun came into the house.” she recalled.
Mr. Petrella looked out the window and saw smoke coming from the top of his garage. He went outside into the pouring min to save the car from the burning garage. Mrs. Petrella said while shaking her head in disbelief.
He walked out only to see the garage engulfed in flames. He returned to his home to call the tire department but his telephone line was dead so he ran down Dean Mathey Lane la the only other building on the street and telephoned the police and fire departments.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Petrella remained in the house fearing the fire would spread to her nearby home, she said.
When police and firefighters arrived on the scene, the garage was in full flames, Fire Chief Km Rendall, said. In PS minutes. the garage was a pile a charred nibble. Rubber was completely melted off the car tires, leaving only the steel axle and spokes. The vinyl seats burnt down to the wire frames and coil springs. And a metal ladder, hubcaps and ashes scattered the rest of the area where the garage once stood.
The Petrella’s, who emigrated to Princeton from Italy, are leaving the car and burnt debris undisturbed while insurance company agents am investigating the accident to see whether they are covered.
The Petrella’s calculated there was $25,000 in monetary damage, plus sentimental damage.
Mr. Petrella said he would miss the 8-year-old car.
“She worked like a clock,” he said.