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Baltimore City

Lightning bolt strikes Baltimore rooftop, igniting fire during Saturday thunderstorm

As large streaks of lightning flashed over Baltimore during a fierce thunderstorm Saturday night, at least two bolts touched an electrical pole and a rowhouse’s rooftop, sparking a fire that drew a sizeable fire department response.

More than 60 firefighters arrived at 8:30 p.m. to a three-story house in the 1200 block of Harbor Island Walk, near the Riverside neighborhood and Di Pasquale’s. Lightning struck the house’s rooftop deck and ignited a fire that threatened to spread to units connected to the middle rowhouse.

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Fire officials upgraded the fire to a second alarm, which calls in additional manpower and equipment, and prevented the fire from spreading. Firefighters controlled the blaze by 9:30 p.m. There were no injuries.

A second house fire broke out around the same time as the lightning strike, the fire union said. Firefighters arrived around 8:40 p.m. at the 5100 block of Nelson Avenue in the Langston Hughes neighborhood of Northwest Baltimore.

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Another lightning strike hit an electrical pole around 9 p.m. and knocked power out for multiple houses in Hamilton Hills in Northeast Baltimore. No fire started.

Saturday’s brief torrential rainfall prompted several emergency calls for water rescues and flooding in Southwest Baltimore, said Blair Adams, a fire department spokesperson. High rainwater levels quickly receded by the time emergency responders arrived, she said.

A severe thunderstorm warning was in effect until 8:45 p.m. Saturday, and the National Weather Service warned that flash flooding was a risk in Baltimore, Towson and Essex.

In Baltimore, a person called to be rescued from their car around 8:40 p.m. on North Hilton Street and Edmondson Avenue in Edgewood when a sewer overflowed and filled the street. Three or four people were able to get out of the car themselves before fire officials arrived.

Two miles away, another person reported being trapped in their car by floodwaters around the same time on North Monroe Street and Kavanaugh Street in Sandtown-Winchester. Firefighters helped remove the driver from the car as the water started to drain. Emergency medical services took the person to the hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.

Fire officials encourage motorists to not travel in areas that are prone to flooding during a storm, including, Hillen Road near Lake Montebello in Northeast Baltimore, Frederick Avenue in Southwest Baltimore and Quad Avenue in East Baltimore.

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