Fast-moving storm downs trees, causes power outages

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A quick-moving line of thunderstorms rolled across Washington and Greene counties early Friday, causing scattered power outages.


The National Weather Service in Pittsburgh said the storm moved in from the west, carried winds of up to 60 mph, but left behind no serious damage. It was part of a storm system that affected the entire East Coast.


More than 6,200 customers of West Penn Power were without electricity about 9:30 a.m. Friday in Washington County, with more than half of them estimated to have been in the Fredericktown, Deemston and Denbo areas, the company reported. The number of outages were reduced to about 1,830 in Washington and Greene counties by 9 p.m., and some in such rural areas as West Finley Township remined under investigation at that time.


Most of the power was expected to be restored by midnight Friday, but a West Penn Power spokeswoman said some customers could be without power until Sunday.


A firefighter in East Bethlehem Township said the power in Fredericktown was restored about 10:15 a.m., that only a portion of nearby Mill Street remained closed in that area due to a fallen tree.


The power quickly went back out there after a transformer on a utility pole exploded, said Jeff Kovach, manager of the Tri-County Joint Municipal Authority in Fredericktown.


He said the authority was making arrangements to bring in generators to power pump stations so water service would not be disrupted in that area. Kovach said he didn’t anticipate problems, and West Penn reported just three outages in the Fredericktown area by 1 p.m.


Central Greene School District closed Friday due to the storm, as did Bentworth Middle School. Carmichaels Area and Southeastern Greene districts operated under two-hour delays.


In Greene County, Perry and Dunkard townships were hard-hit. West Penn Power spokeswoman Diane Holder said West Penn Power crews from other areas and contract crews were being brought in to help get power restored.


Most of the volunteer fire companies in Greene County were called out early Friday primarily to deal with downed trees and wires on roads, said Gregory Leathers, director of Greene County Department of Emergency Management. He said he had not heard of any damage to property.


Leathers said he came to the county’s 911 communications center about 3:30 a.m. Friday. “When the wind rolled through here and the power went out, I knew we would have issues,” he said. At the center, “the phone rang nonstop.”


The 911 system had two radio towers down because of power outages but was able to operate them with generators, Leathers said.


State Department of Transportation crews had to remove trees and debris from some highways. “We had a few trees down, but from what I understand nothing major,” said Jay Ofsanik, PennDOT District 12 spokesman.



Staff writer Bob Niedbala contributed to this report.


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