High Winds Down Power Lines Throughout Area

By Martin Weil and Elissa Silverman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, February 11, 2008

Punishing winds gusting as high as 60 mph swept across Virginia, Maryland and the District yesterday, tearing down trees, fanning fires and knocking out power to more than a quarter-million businesses and homes.

Reports from across the region indicated that winds tore off sections of roofing, sent tree limbs crashing onto cars and into windows and tilted a church steeple on New Jersey Avenue NW in the District.

Fallen power lines blocked Rockville Pike near Old Georgetown Road about 4 p.m., Montgomery County fire spokesman Pete Piringer said.

Dominion Virginia Power, which provides electricity to much of Virginia, said in a statement that "more than 190,000 customers" had been affected. About 24,000 of them were in the Northern Virginia area.

At one point, Pepco reported about 28,000 homes and businesses without electricity, most in Prince George's County, where three substations were shut down. Baltimore Gas and Electric reported 50,000 outages, many in Anne Arundel and Howard counties.

The wind, arriving with arctic air, spread wildfires across Virginia, prompting Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) to declare a state of emergency to aid firefighting efforts.

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