(NEXSTAR) – Firefighters in Oklahom awere called an apartment building Wednesday night after a bolt of lightning apparently traveled through the exhaust vent and shattered a toilet in one of the units.
No one was injured, but the toilet was “severely damaged,” Okmulgee Fire Chief Dewayne Hurt said in a statement shared with Nexstar.
An explosion of this type — a toilet being blown to smithereens during a lightning storm — isn’t entirely unheard of, though it appears to be quite rare. One of the only other instances of the last several years occurred in 2019, when lightning struck near a Florida couple’s septic tank, ignited the gases within and caused one of their toilets to explode.
The lightning that struck the Oklahoma apartment complex took a different route, first striking the roof before coming through a metal exhaust vent and hitting the water in the toilet, according to an Okmulgee firefighter who spoke with Nexstar.
The reaction caused the bowl to blow apart, he said.
Hurt said the lighting also caused a small fire in the attic, which crews extinguished.
Experts say lightning can also travel through plumbing, which is why the National Weather Service and even the CDC advise against using the shower, the tub, or even washing dishes during an electrical storm. Neither agency mentions toilets specifically, but both advise people to avoid all pipes or plumbing. The CDC also says to avoid “all water” during a storm.
The NWS’ other tips regarding lightning safety, as well as an analysis of recent lightning fatalities, can be found on the department’s website.