More than 10,000 customers in region lose electricity during thunderstorms

Dome of State House possibly hit by lightning

July 17, 2005|By Alec MacGillis | Alec MacGillis,SUN STAFF

More than 10,000 customers in the Baltimore area lost power yesterday afternoon and evening during thunderstorms that also set off a flurry of excitement over a possible lightning strike at the State House in Annapolis.

Anne Arundel County, where the storms hit about 6 p.m., appeared to be the hardest-hit, with nearly 6,000 customers lacking power at 7 p.m., according to BGE. But a total of 4,500 customers still lacked power about that time in Baltimore and Baltimore County, where the storms had moved through earlier in the afternoon.

A total of about 1,000 customers were without power in Carroll, Harford and Howard counties at 7 p.m., according to BGE.

Also last night, firefighters were trying to determine whether a lightning strike was the reason for the activation of the sprinkler system in the State House dome.

During the storm, shortly after 6 p.m., witnesses reported seeing a possible fire in the dome. Firefighters rushed to the scene and found that the dome's sprinklers, which are both inside and outside, had come on, but they found no signs of fire, said Anne Hubbard, a spokeswoman for the Department of General Services.

It was possible, Hubbard said, that witnesses had mistaken for smoke what was, in fact, the fine mist sprayed by the sprinklers on the outside of the dome. She said fire officials were trying to determine what had set off the sprinklers, which caused water damage inside the dome.

The storms damaged trees and utility lines, particularly in Anne Arundel, police and fire officials said. The storms also played a role in multiple accidents on area roads, none of which was fatal, officials said.

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