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Storm puts thousands in dark Saturday night

June 29, 2008|By DON AINES

A fast-moving thunderstorm came through the Tri-State area Saturday night, knocking put power to a few thousand customers in Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, an Allegheny Power spokesman said.

At 9 p.m., about 1,500 customers in the Hagerstown area were without power, spokesman Mark Nitowski said. About 7,200 customers were without power throughout Western Maryland, he said.

"We staffed up the Williamsport substation and they're working as quickly and safely as possible to restore power," Nitowski said.

A Washington County dispatcher said the storm downed wires and tress in an area stretching from Dargan to west of Clear Spring. There were reports of houses struck by lightning with minor damage, the dispatcher said.

A dispatcher in Berkeley County, W.Va., reported the center received "hundreds of calls" in the wake of the storm.

"There are trees and lines and poles down everywhere" and the clean up could take days, the dispatcher said.

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A wind gust of 59 knots was reported at the airport in Martinsburg, said Calvin Meadows, a meteorological technician with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va. It was a straight-line wind and there was no evidence of tornado activity, he said.

Strong winds and thunderstorms developed ahead of a front that passed through the northern Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, West Virginia and Central Maryland, Meadows said.

In Morgan County, W.Va., a 911 dispatcher said the storm, which started hitting the Tri-State area about 7 p.m., caused power outages in the Great Cacapon and Berkeley Springs areas. Numerous roads were blocked by fallen trees, the dispatcher said.

The Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Department was called to a structure fire on Autumn Acres Road at 7:19 p.m. Firefighters were on the scene until 9 p.m., but no further information was available from the department Saturday night.

A dispatcher in Jefferson County, W.Va., said she received the first of five calls about downed trees at 7:17 p.m. Otherwise, the county appeared to have weathered the storm well, the dispatcher said.

About 14,000 Allegheny Power customers were without power in West Virginia, but Nitowski said he did not have that broken down by counties. In Pennsylvania, the figure was about 7,100, but he said the bulk of those were in the western part of the state.

In Franklin and Fulton counties in Pennsylvania, dispatchers reported spotty outages and some instances of downed trees and limbs on power lines.

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