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W.Va. storm cuts power

July 31, 1998

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A fierce storm, described by 911 dispatchers as a tornado, tore through southern Berkeley County Thursday evening, uprooting trees and throwing them into homes, vehicles and power lines, according to a fire department official.

Lt. Mason Butler of the South Berkeley Fire Department said he saw trees as big as 13 inches in diameter torn out of the ground and cast aside by the fierce winds.

No injuries were reported, Butler said.

He said one woman whose house was in the path of the storm saw a funnel cloud hit the ground. Roofs were torn off some buildings, he said.

Cyndi Shoop, a spokeswoman for Allegheny Power, said 400 customers were without power Thursday night as a result of the storm. "Most should have their service resumed by noon Friday," she said.

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A number of utility poles were broken in the storm, she said.

According to Butler, the 6 p.m. storm struck the Runnymeade, Troy Town and Sam Mason road areas.

"There were trees down everywhere. There was a lot of wind," Butler said.

Also responding were units from Baker Heights, Back Creek Valley and Clear Brook, Va., Butler said.

- Richard F. Belisle

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