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Weather

Powerful storms lead to power loss, fire and road closures in Harford County

Residents throughout the region are still dealing with the aftermath of Tuesday night’s severe thunderstorms that pushed through Maryland, forcing dozens of road closures and leaving thousands without power.

Baltimore Gas & Electric said it expected to restore power to 90% of its customers on Thursday. Over 60,000 customers, mostly in Harford, Carroll and northern Baltimore counties, lost power in the storm. Approximately 6,000 customers in Harford County were still without power on Thursday morning, according to Baltimore Gas & Electric.

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“BGE continues to work to restore system damage from the severe storms that impacted our area late Tuesday afternoon and into the evening,” BGE said in a statement Wednesday. “Due to the widespread damage, more than 800 personnel from other utility companies in multiple states are actively working with BGE to restore power to impacted customers. However, due to extensive damage from fallen trees, some equipment may not be accessible and repairs to damaged equipment may take longer than anticipated.”

Ripken Stadium, which suffered damage from the storms, is one of three staging areas in the region for utility crews, along with Timonium Fairgrounds and BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport.

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The Harford County Sheriff’s Office said it was flooded with 9-11 calls during and after the storm and posted an advisory on its social media pages for residents to call their utility company and not jam up the emergency call center.

BGE is advising residents that if they see any downed power lines, to assume that all wires are live at lethal voltages and never assume that a wire is safe to touch or be near. Call BGE at 877-778-2222 to report fallen electrical lines, power outages and gas odors.

Delmarva Power, which services a portion of northern Harford County, said over 400 customers were still without power Thursday, but the company expected to have power restored by Thursday night.

No major injuries have been reported from the storms but downed power lines and lost power have sparked fires. A house fire Thursday morning in Street was caused by an electrical strip from a generator being used in a home without power, according to the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

According to the state fire marshal, the family of four living there was awakened by their two dogs barking and discovered a fire in the attached garage of the house in the 3100 block of Tucker Road around 3 a.m. The family had lost power in the storm and used a generator to power various appliances. Investigators said one full-size refrigerator and two small refrigerators were connected to a power strip in the garage.

It took 35 firefighters from the Darlington Volunteer Fire Company 30 minutes to control the blaze. Firefighters were able to contain the majority of the fire to the garage before it spread to the remainder of the house, the state fire marshal said.

The fire caused an estimated $100,000 in damages. The family was displaced and is being assisted by Harford County Disaster Assistance, the state fire marshal said.

Lightning struck the roof of a house located two miles from Ripken Stadium, sparking an attic fire. Aberdeen volunteer firefighters were on the scene at Doris Road when a large tree smashed into a house across town on Washington Street, trapping two people inside. The residents were not injured by the tree but they could not escape the destroyed house, which was deemed uninhabitable.

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Closures

A severe thunderstorm warning was issued Tuesday afternoon for several counties in Maryland, including Harford, and by 5:30 p.m. the storms had damaged Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium, canceling the game scheduled for that evening.

At least two trees, sheared from their base, laid flat in the parking lot outside the stadium Tuesday evening, and the stadium’s right field wall was damaged. The wall was repaired in time for Wednesday’s game, but the game was suspended in the sixth inning due to light failure from the storm.

There are other areas with damage, including broken windows, which will be repaired in the future in collaboration with the City of Aberdeen, which owns the stadium, said IronBirds’ general manager Jack Graham.

Harford County public school activities, including summer school and meal programs that distribute food to students, were canceled Wednesday and Thursday because of road closures and damage to school buildings. All offices were also closed. The school system is closed on Fridays during the summer, said Jillian Lader, manager of communications for Harford County Public Schools.

“Cleanup continues and we look forward to being able to open for normal operations on Monday,” Lader said. “This will include summer programs and summer meals.”

Harford County Community College and Towson University in Northeastern Maryland were also closed Wednesday today due to power outages.

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Harford County reported 29 local road closures Thursday, with nearly all of those due to downed trees, downed wires or a combination of the two. Road closures were concentrated in the southeast section of the county, including Joppatowne, Bel Air and Aberdeen, as well as the Fallston and Jarrettsville areas. Road closures can be viewed at https://harfordgis.maps.arcgis.com/.


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