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Winds wreak havoc in area

December 12, 2000

Winds wreak havoc in area



By BOB PARTLOW and DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writers, Martinsburg


MARTINSBURG, W. Va. - Winds gusting to at least 60 mph blasted through the Eastern Panhandle Tuesday morning, leaving 10,000 people at least temporarily without power, causing one school to close and sparking some small brush fires.

"Our goal is that for all those who are still without power that they will have power restored (today)," said Allen Staggers, spokesman for Allegheny Power, which supplies electricity to 1.6 million customers in the Eastern Panhandle and parts of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia.

Systemwide, about 136,000 of the company's customers were without electricity at some point during the wind storm, he said. About 30,000 were expected to still be without power this morning.

Staggers said the storm didn't catch the utility by surprise, but its effect on the system did.

"I can't recall a storm that was just wind that caused this many outages," Staggers said. "With thunderstorms or tornadoes or snow storms and wind you'll see this. But I've never seen this many outages with wind alone."

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Staggers said a monitor on the Potomac River in the Eastern Panhandle area registered gusts of at least 60 mph.

About 7,700 people were without power in Berkeley and Jefferson counties. Another 2,200 lost power in Morgan County.

About 300 people in Berkeley County, most in the Hedgesville area, lost power Monday night.

In Berkeley County, emergency services personnel fielded calls all morning about power lines that were down or arcing.

At least two brush fires, one on Palmer Road and another on Sam Mason Road, were reported, but neither caused major damage.

In Jefferson County, high winds tore a roof off a house in Ranson and caused a power outage in the Shenandoah Junction area, officials said.

Jefferson High School was affected by the power outage, forcing school officials to cancel classes there for the day, said Jefferson County Schools spokeswoman Bev Hughes.

A metal roof was peeled off a house at the corner of George Street and 5th Avenue in Ranson when winds were battering the area about 7 a.m., said Ed Smith, chief of Independent Fire Co.

Metal sheeting was torn from the roof, Smith said.

"From the front to the back, it just rolled right off," Smith said.

No one was living in the house, which is being renovated, Smith said.

Also Tuesday morning, electrical lines began arcing along Job Corps Road. The arcing wires sparked a small brush fire in the area and cut power to the high school, Smith said.

Power was restored at about 11 a.m., Hughes said.

Classes were expected to resume at Jefferson High School this morning.

In Franklin County, Pa., 667 people were without electricity, but power had been restored to all but 47 by 5 p.m., Allegheny Power spokesman Guy Fletcher said.

In Fulton County, 30 customers were without power, and all but four were restored by early evening, he said.

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