Three hikers spending time in Banff National Park last weekend got more than just a day in the wilderness when a storm rolled in over the mountains and knocked all of them from their feet.
According to Parks Canada, a woman was hiking on Mount Bourgeau at about 1 p.m. Saturday when the storm clouds rolled in and was either struck by lightning or had a strike near her.
“She was knocked out by the lighting strike and so she called us not really knowing where she was,” visitor safety specialist Conrad Janzen said on Thursday.
Janzen said officials pinpointed her location using her phone through the 911 system.
“We responded by helicopter, slung into the area next to her and assessed her injuries and packaged her up and transported her down to the EMS crew that was located at Sunshine Village,” he said.
She was eventually taken to Calgary for treatment of burns on various parts of her body, EMS told Parks Canada, and would be under observation, but had no other major injuries.
The woman was hiking above the tree line, at about 2,800 to 2,900 metres.
‘Their pants were actually on fire’
Another pair of hikers was caught in the same storm later that afternoon Janzen said, and both were struck by lightning while hiking on Mount Temple.
“They reported that their legs were burned, their pants were actually on fire and their shoes were actually blown off by the strike,” Janzen said.
“They were still able to hike down and they were mostly calling because of their concern for some other hikers higher on the mountain that they hadn’t seen after the storm had passed and wanted us to go and check and see if they were alright.”
WATCH: Lightning strikes in various parts of Calgary on Wednesday night
Janzen said those hikers were above Sentinel Pass, at about the same elevation as the woman injured earlier in the day.
Janzen said people being actually struck by lightning is “certainly an anomaly,” despite storms rolling through the region on a regular basis, adding it’s the first time it’s happened in his career with Parks Canada.
If park visitors are ever injured by a lightning strike, they’re encouraged to contact Parks Canada right away so they can respond as quickly as possible.
He also said people should be vigilant if they see bad weather approaching.
“If you see a lightning storm approaching and the gap between seeing the lightning and hearing the thunder is less than 30 seconds, that’s an indication for you to try and get to lower ground, get off of ridges, try and move into safe areas,” Janzen said.
“If you’re down in the valley bottoms, you want to either get inside a car or a building that has plumbing and electrical equipment around so you’re sheltered from that lightning.”
Janzen said once you reach those safe places, stay until the last clap of thunder so you know the storm has passed and you won’t get caught by a trailing lightning strike.