Lightning causes 2 fires as thousands lose electricity in storm

August 28, 1994|By Bill Talbott | Bill Talbott,Sun Staff Writer

A barn and an old vacant schoolhouse were set ablaze by lightning Friday night as a fierce storm moved across Carroll County.

The storm also knocked out power to nearly 9,000 Baltimore Gas and Electric and Potomac Edison customers in Carroll.

Firefighters from Gamber, Westminster and Winfield were dispatched to the 2700 block of Old Washington Road at 12:34 a.m. and discovered that lightning had hit a wooden barn, causing the roof and hay in the barn to burn. The firefighters remained at the scene for 90 minutes.

It was the third barn fire attributed to lightning in South Carroll in a little more than two weeks.

Lightning destroyed a barn loaded with hay and straw in the 4700 block of Woodbine Road Aug. 21. The barn, one of many on the Shamrock Farms property, a 600-acre thoroughbred horse farm in Winfield, burned to the ground, fire officials said.

On Aug. 11, another barn on the opposite side of Woodbine Road, also part of Shamrock Farms, was hit by lightning and destroyed, fire officials said.

Another fire at 1:27 a.m. Friday began when lightning hit a vacant schoolhouse in the 200 block of S. Springdale Road near New Windsor. The blaze extensively damaged the structure, fire officials said.

Firefighters from New Windsor, Westminster and Union Bridge responded and remained at the site for two hours and 45 minutes.

Charles Franklin, a BGE spokesman, said 8,700 customers in Carroll County lost power because of the line of storms and 34,300 lost service throughout Central Maryland.

All service in Carroll was restored by noon Friday and most customers had power restored by dawn, Mr. Franklin said.

"With the storm hitting in the middle of the night, the majority of those probably didn't realize their power was off until they got up and noticed the lights wouldn't go on," Mr. Franklin said.

Potomac Edison, which serves about 9,000 customers in western Carroll, along with others in parts of Howard and Montgomery counties and all of Western Maryland, did not experience major problems in Carroll.

"We did have some scattered outages [in Carroll and Howard counties], with trees coming down and hitting the wires," said Bill Cowden, Potomac Edison division manager for Frederick County.

The company's largest outage was in New Market, just west of Mount Airy, where nearly 1,000 customers lost power for about six hours. Power was restored to those customers by 6 a.m. Friday, he said.

By Friday afternoon, Potomac Edison was still "chasing scattered outages caused by transformers being hit by lightning or trees falling down," Mr. Cowden said.

Fewer than 50 Potomac Edison customers remained without power Friday afternoon.

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