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Fargo man snaps dramatic scene as lightning interrupts fireworks display

A lightning storm and fireworks display combine over Devils Lake, N.D., on July 4, 2015. Photo by Mitch Axness / Special to The Forum

DEVILS LAKE, N.D. – When photographer Mitch Axness saw the image show up on his camera screen, he was ecstatic.

"When it popped up on that screen and I was like, 'Wow, this is awesome,'" Axness said.

With an eight-second exposure, Axness didn't even realize he had caught the dramatic image of a lightning bolt appearing to strike a firework shell. That is, until he saw the image on the relatively tiny screen of his camera.

"I couldn't wait to get home and look at this on a bigger screen than three inches," Axness said.

Axness, a system support specialist at NDSU by day, calls photography a "serious hobby," though this latest image, snapped on the Fourth of July at Devils Lake has been shared hundreds of times on social media.

Driving back home to Fargo, Axness said he didn't know the extent of the photo's reach, but said he would soon find out.

While it looks like the lightning bolt is cracking into the firework shell, Axness said he thought it was just a near-perfect coincidence they appeared to match up in the image, with the bolt likely striking behind or in front of the explosion.