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Big sign falls

power disrupted

January 12, 2000

High winds topple sign

By JULIE E. GREENE / Staff Writer

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer




MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - High winds knocked down a large billboard along Interstate 81 in Martinsburg and knocked out power to several homes in the Tri-State area Tuesday.

cont. from front page

An approximately 100-foot-tall metal pole holding two tiers of billboards on both sides fell into the parking lot at Martin's Landing Apartment Homes around 3:22 p.m.

No one was injured, and the billboard missed a parked Dodge Dynasty by about 3 feet.

Rudolph Brown Jr., 26, said he saw the pole rocking from his second-floor window. "The next thing you know it fell over," Brown said.

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Dave Parsons, 35, said he heard the billboard fall while he was making a delivery to Martin's Landing for Heilig-Meyers Furniture.

"It sounded like a big cannon. I thought it was a wreck on the interstate," Parsons said.

At least two cars were damaged by debris from the billboard. A teal Chevrolet Sunfire had a hole in its rear window and a gray Dodge Dynasty had a crack in its windshield.

Fire officials taped up exposed wires at the base of the pole where it was uprooted, Martinsburg City Police said. Allegheny Energy officials later checked it to make sure it was safe.

An employee at the Bluefield, W.Va., office of Lamar Advertising said company officials were meeting with their attorneys about the fallen billboard. The employee said it was the first time one of the firm's billboards had fallen.

The investigating City of Martinsburg building inspector could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The National Weather Service said Martinsburg experienced two peak wind gusts Tuesday because of strong low pressure systems accompanied by showers, meteorologist Chris Strong said.

The first peak gust was 41 mph around 10 a.m. followed by a 40 mph gust around 3 p.m., Strong said.

High winds knocked down trees and tree limbs onto some power lines, leaving about 237 Tri-State area customers without power as of early Tuesday evening, said Allegheny Energy spokesman Allen Staggers.

Among those without power Tuesday evening were 111 homes in Urbana, Md., 62 homes in the Hancock, area, 50 homes in Buckeystown, Md., six homes in Waynesboro, Pa., four homes in Maugansville, Md., and some homes scattered throughout Frederick County, Md., Staggers said.

Only one Martinsburg home was still without power by early Tuesday evening.

All power was expected to be restored by midnight Tuesday.

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