Two Springfield youths were injured by lightning yesterday afternoon as brief but turbulent thunderstorms ripped through the Washington area.
Fairfax County police said John Fagan, 12, and Peter L. Reynolds, 13, were playing in a thicket about 3:35 p.m. in the 8300 block of Kenwood Avenue when a bolt of lightning struck them.
Fagan, of 6504 Tiburon Court, apparently was hit by the full force of the bolt and suffered severe burns over much of his body, police said. Reynolds, of 6500 Tiburon Ct., was standing a few feet away and suffered severe chest burns, police said.
Both victims were taken to Fairfax Hospital where a spokesman said Reynolds was in serious condition. Fagan was reported in critical condition and later was transferred to the burn unit at Children's Hospital in Washington.
Being struck by lightning, to a degree, causes much the same effect as electrocution. The skin will be burned at the point of entry of the electrical charge, and varying amounts of damage can be done to body organs and tissue. The heart beat and brain activity can be affected, and a charge of sufficient intensity--depending on the individual--can cause a seizure, shock from interruption of the pumping of blood through the body and even a heart attack.
About three blocks from where the boys were struck, lightning is suspected to have caused a fire at 6823 Ontario St., according to fire officials.
They reported that an occupant of the house heard a "loud crack" moments before flames were detected. A West Springfield firefighter, Jimmy Heider, 28, was treated for minor burns on the neck and hands at Fairfax Hospital.
The storms led to scattered power outages and a rash of minor traffic accidents, area police reported.
A spokesman for Virginia Electric and Power Co. said about 10,000 customers were without power, but that service was restored before darkness in most cases, as was the case in other sections of the area.
A spokesman for Potomac Electric Power Co. said more than 1,300 homes in Chevy Chase were left without electricity when wind downed an electric cable at Wisconsin Avenue and Bradley Lane at 4:19 p.m. Another 600 were without service in the District and Montgomery and Prince George's counties.
Yesterday's rains marked the first significant fall in the area in nearly two weeks, according to the National Weather Service.
Larry Wenzel of the Weather Service said the rain came in a line of storms that formed from warm humid air moving up from the south.