By Oklahoma standards, the storms that swept through Ardmore and surrounding cities Thursday afternoon were relatively harmless.
According to the National Weather Service's Norman office, the 58 mile-per-hour winds and thunderstorms brought 4.4 inches of rain, downed a pair of power lines and damaged tree limbs.
"Just a typical summer storm," said Paul Tucker, director of Carter County Emergency Management.
But for one Ardmore family, the damage from the storms hit close to home — seven feet to be exact.
At 2:36 p.m. a lightning strike outside retired Ardmore resident Bob Lemons’ garage, located on Beach Academy Rd. just North of Ardmore city limits, sent a tree his son planted 42 years ago crashing into the power lines below.
According to witnesses, sparks from the downed cables quickly sent the tree ablaze. Just steps separated Lemons’ residence — a home sheltering six family members, who were inside watching the news at the time — from disaster.
Lemons’ neighbor, Wes Pack, was watching the storms roll in from his porch Thursday.
“It was storming real bad," Pack said. "We heard this crack, lightning hit the tree, and it came crashing down on the power line."
There were sparks, Pack said and within seconds Lemons' tree caught on fire. Pack said he thought his house and the houses surrounding him would be next.
“I was freaking out,” Pack added. “I thought the whole place was going to go up in flames.”
Lemons said he was on his way back home from a visit in Marietta when he saw other residents out on the street.
“They said the house was on fire,” Lemons said.
The fear from the initial reports didn't last long, Lemons said.
After Pack dialed 911, the fire department responded within minutes. And by the time trucks arrived at the scene, Pack said the rain and a rapid response from the electric company kept the blaze under control.
“OGE must have got the power shut off quick — before it got out of hand,” Pack said. “It was out by the time they got here.”
Aside from a few fallen branches and a powerline draping against his fence, Lemons' home and family were intact.
“I’m glad they were wrong about that,” Lemons said.
While the generations of family members inside were his most pressing concern, Lemons said the walls that housed them hold more than material value.
In 1976, Lemons’ son, a longtime employee at the Valero refinery in Ardmore, built the home from scratch, living there until he passed. The ranch-style home is a living testament to his son, who passed away three years ago, Lemons said.
“I miss him an awful lot,” he said.
Around the same time, Lemons' wife passed away in the home.
"My brother built this house and lived here until he passed, my mother passed here," Lemons’ daughter Kristi Holley said. “It’s more than a house. It’s the family home.”
Lemons' grandson, a Houston resident, inherited the home after his father's death and within months Lemons bought the house.
"I wanted to keep [the home] in the family," Lemons said.
He keeps family in the home, too.
Bob, his daughter, greatgrandchildren, grandchildren and a mother-in-law all live under the roof built by Lemons' son.
With family and finding flashlights after the power went out coming first, Lemons said he hadn't assessed any damages on Thursday.
The trunk of the 42-year-old oak tree is a charred husk of its former self. Some of its limbs and branches were hauled away in the back of a truck. The rest were piled against the fence.
The power would be out for hours and Lemons' missed his favorite Thursday night programming.
But his family is safe and his son's home stands.
Lemons was in no mood to complain.
“I got enough trees, I’m not gonna miss a few limbs,” Lemons said. "I'm just thankful."