Thunderstorms cause damage across region Lightning hurts 11 at RFK; power outages reported


Powerful thunderstorms swept across Central Maryland yesterday, downing trees, triggering alarms, sparking fires and knocking out electricity to nearly 59,000 Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. customers.

The storm hit about 4 p.m., with high winds, lightning and more than an inch of rain, the National Weather Service said.

Eleven people attending a Tibetan Freedom Concert rock show were injured by lightning at Washington's RFK Stadium. Six were hospitalized and five were treated at the scene, authorities reported.

In Timonium, 37-year-old Christopher Brenamen was critically injured when he touched fallen electrical wires on the driveway of his home in the 600 block of W. Timonium Road about 8: 45 p.m., Baltimore County police said.

He was flown by helicopter to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition.

The storm hit hard in Prince George's and Montgomery counties, where golf-ball-sized hail peppered some areas. A Potomac Electric Power Co. spokesman said 49,000 of its 700,000 customers were without electricity after the hourlong storms.

In the Baltimore area, problems included flooded basements, small fires, minor automobile accidents, broken traffic signals and downed trees.

In Howard County, the storm knocked out police communication lines for about 40 minutes.

"We've been in silence here," said Officer David Etheridge, who was on duty at the communications center. "Some officers have stopped at public telephones to stay in touch with the communications center."

Overall, Etheridge added, "It was minimal damage considering the intensity of the storm. The rain came down like a curtain of water, and it was being blown horizontally by strong gusts of wind for some time."

The Harford County Sheriff's Office reported downed power lines in many areas, particularly at U.S. 40 and Route 7 in Abingdon and on Carsons Run Road in Aberdeen.

Baltimore County police reported a spate of residential burglar alarms triggered by the storm and one electrical transformer set ablaze by lightning in the Garrison area.

Anne Arundel County police said intense rain, hail and high winds broke tree limbs, bringing down power lines in many areas.

Philip Bender, who lives in a wooded Columbia neighborhood, said he was standing at a window watching the storm when he saw his 100-year-old backyard tree uprooted by the wind.

"She started swaying, and then she just went," said Bender, an engineer. "She's a monster tree. It just missed our deck and our house by inches."

BGE, which has about 1 million customers, said the worst problems were reported in Howard, with about 14,000 affected as of 11 p.m. last night. About 8,000 customers in Baltimore lost power, 7,000 in Anne Arundel County, 6,000 in Baltimore County and 3,500 in Harford County, said spokesman Karl R. Neddenien.

Pub Date: 6/14/98

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