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Storm knocks out power

lightning hits woman

August 26, 2007|By TAMELA BAKER

WASHINGTON COUNTY - A thunderstorm that struck the southern and eastern portions of Washington County on Saturday caused power outages and kept emergency workers hopping.

One serious injury was reported when a young woman was struck by lightning near the C&O Canal towpath in Weverton in the southern part of the county.

Allegheny Energy crews were working to restore power to some 950 Washington County customers, Allegheny spokesman Mike Grandillo said. Most were in Smithsburg and Knoxville, he said, although there were reports of outages in Keedysville, Hagerstown and other areas.

"Crews will be out there until power is restored," Grandillo said. "I would say everybody should have their power back on by noon (today)" - assuming there was no more storm activity Saturday night, he said.

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Traffic was routed around a downed line on Alternate U.S. 40 near Boonsboro, and a number of downed trees were reported as well.

"The storm only affected the southern and eastern part of the county, but it hit us pretty good," said James Ulrich, who was working the phone for Washington County Emergency Services. "We've got lots of trees and wires down."

Several traffic accidents - including an overturned vehicle on Interstate 70 - were reported as well, but none with injuries, Ulrich said.

The Potomac Valley Fire Co. had an especially busy night, called out first for "odorous smoke" on Keep Tryst Road about 5 p.m. That turned out to be nothing, Assistant Chief Eric Gray said.

While they were out, they were called for a water rescue on the Potomac River by people crossing the U.S. 340 bridge who thought they saw boaters "in distress," he said. They and several other units - including the county's Special Operations Team - responded, but finding nothing, they were summoned to aid the lightning strike victim, whose name was not available Saturday night.

Gray said a Brunswick, Md., unit took the woman to Washington County Hospital with what appeared to be spinal injuries.

They originally thought she had been on the towpath, but later learned that she had been in the water when the lightning struck, he said.

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