Lightning Crashes And Burns In County

August 21, 1991|By Maria Archangelo | Maria Archangelo,Staff writer

A morning thunderstorm ripped through Carroll yesterday, tearing down power lines, disabling county fire and rescue communications, and igniting transformer boxes and a 100-year-old barn.

The 9:15 a.m. storm marked the second wave of heavy rains, spectacular lightning andgrowling thunder that rolled out of the Ohio Valley Monday evening and dumped more than six inches of rain around the county.

Another storm brought rain and lightning across portions of Carroll yesterday evening.

Arthur Slusark, a spokesman for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., said 18,000 customers lost power when the storm first made its presence known in Carroll around 8 p.m. Monday. As of 6p.m. yesterday, about 1,500 county residents remained without power.

Lightning caused most of the problems in Carroll, especially at the county's Emergency Operations Center on Washington Road.

The center was struck by a bolt of lightning just before 9:30 a.m., said Howard "Buddy" Redman, administrator of emergency services and civil defense.

Redman said the lightning knocked out the center's radio communications, rendering it unable to dispatch fire and rescue equipment.

He said that when radio communications are disrupted, calls are handled by dispatchers at the Westminster Fire Department. He said calls were dispatched without a problem yesterday.

Redman said business phones at the center also were knocked out by the storm, so that employees could receive but not make outside calls.

Radio communications were restored by 2:30 p.m., Redman said.

Another bolt hita 100-year-old barn on Harvey Yingling Road in Manchester at 9:40 a.m., said Deputy State Fire Marshal Bob Thomas.

The lightning touched off a two-alarm fire that destroyed the wood-frame barn and caused$100,000 damage. Farm equipment, 300 bales of hay and some antiques stored in the barn also were destroyed, Thomas said.

The barn's owner, 66-year-old Vera McCubbin, reported the blaze after she heard the crack of the lightning, he said.

About 30 firefighters from Manchester, Lineboro, Hampstead and Parkville and Pleasant Hill of York County brought the blaze under control in about 45 minutes.

Throughout the county, state and city police blocked off roads and rescued stranded vehicles caught in the flash flooding.

Westminster police closed the intersections of Court and North Center streets and Georgeand Westminster streets after two cars were stranded in high water, city police Corp. Rick May said.

The Route 27 entrance to Route 140 east also was closed for about 20 minutes after a car was immersed to its hood in water at the height of the downpour, May said. No serious accidents were reported in Westminster.

State police also had their share of problems when their dispatch system was knocked out bylightning just after the storm began, said 1st Sgt. Stephen Reynolds.

Troopers spent their time pushing cars out of steep water on Route 32 and checking out burglar and fire alarms set off by the electrical storm.

Most of the problems were not serious, he said.

"I think it helped that most people were at work by the time the storm hit, so we didn't have a lot of traffic problems," Reynolds said.

County weather watchers reported that the morning storm dumped 1.6 inches of rain near Westminster and 1.1 inches in Millers in about 45 minutes.

Weather observer Larry Myers said that almost three times asmuch rain fell in Carroll during the past two days as fell during June and July.

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