Lightning strike leads to destruction of California town’s only post office

A powerful winter storm that has impacted the Golden State caused blizzard conditions in the Sierra Nevada and spawned a tornado in the central part of the state. Leggett is a town in Mendocino County and has a population of less than 100 residents.

LEGGETT, Calif. – A post office that serviced residents around the town of Leggett is no more after locals said a nearby lightning strike caused the building to burn down.

Firefighters from several agencies responded to reports of the fire after 5:30 p.m. local time Friday. Video taken by Steven Sutherland showed the building engulfed in flames.

The U.S. Postal Service center was just feet from a local market, but Sutherland said it appears other nearby buildings survived the blaze.

"The grocery store was saved, and my mother’s property as well," Sutherland said. "There were no injuries. The postmaster had already left for the day."

According to initial reports, lightning struck a nearby tree before the vegetation caught the small post office on fire.

The blaze in what is essentially the town’s main commercial district even got the attention of State Sen. Mike McGuire, who encouraged everyone to temporarily avoid traveling through the impacted area in northern Mendocino County.

Leggett has an estimated population of less than 100 people and sits among giant redwoods, some 6 hours north of San Francisco.


Communities up and down California’s State Route 1 reported hail, gusty winds and lightning during Friday’s storms that were produced by a powerful winter system.

The greatest impacts were reported over inland mountain ranges where feet of snow fell and winds gusted to well over 100 mph.

FOX Weather Winter Storm Specialist Tom Niziol described the storm system as one of the more powerful winter storm systems to impact interior regions of the state he has seen in several years.

"It’s a really interesting event to study from a meteorological standpoint," Niziol said. "Blizzard warnings out not only for the Sierra, but for parts of eastern Nevada where that combination of snow and wind is going to produce the blizzard conditions."


Fortunately, conditions for coastal communities in the Golden State have greatly improved as the main piece of energy works farther into the West.

FOX Weather reached out to the USPS to determine what the agency plans to do next for operations in the town, and the agency sent a statement that read in part, "We are deeply saddened to confirm the Leggett Post Office sustained extensive fire damage. The Post Office was closed at the time of the fire and there were no injuries. Due to this damage, services normally provided at the Leggett Post Office will be made available until further notice at the Garberville Post Office located at 368 Sprowl Creek Rd, Garberville, CA 95542."

The nearest post offices from Leggett are in the towns of Laytonville and Garberville, which are about a half hour's drive away.