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Landmark American flag in Braintree toppled by lightning strike

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  September 3, 2013 05:01 PM

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A piece of the Braintree skyscape is notably missing after the massive American flag located at Toyota of Braintree was toppled by lightning Sunday morning.

The force of the strike practically blew up the pole, sending the 110 landmark shooting into the air before it landed in the trees nearby.

“Miraculously, no one was hurt,” said Greg Tufankjian, who operates the dealership alongside his brother and father. “Some of the debris landed on a couple of cars but no one was injured, it happened an hour before we opened.”

Already crews are working to assess the damage and figure out when the pole can be repaired or replaced. Meanwhile the 40-foot by 20-foot flag has been stored at the site.

Surprisingly, the flag escaped unscathed.

“It’s a beloved icon and the gateway to Braintree,” Tufankjian said. “People generally call us if it’s not up all the way or not up quickly after a storm is over. It’s a nice landmark. And we do 100 percent intend on reconstructing it.”

The flag was installed five years ago shortly after the dealership arrived on the hill near Route 3, and it has never been hit by lightning.

“It has a lightening rod attached to it too. But the lightening hit it and when the lightening hit the top of it, it caused the first two sections to shoot up in the air,” Tufankjian said.

Kenny Black was driving along the highway when he saw the strike happen, and described the event as surreal.

“It was something to see and there was a big loud explosion,” Black said. “I turned around as quick as I could to see if anyone was hurt.”

Black recalls saying talking to himself in amazement at the sight of it, and once he arrived at the dealership, he stood nearby the flag to ensure no one vandalized or stole it.

The local musician had been performing for “Project New Hope” the entire week, a benefit geared towards veterans and their families.

“All week long all my gigs have been about the American flag,” he said.

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