Eight construction workers were injured yesterday, three of them critically, when powerful winds apparently knocked over the 20-foot-high cinderblock wall of a warehouse they were working on in Manassas Park.
Three of the men were in critical condition and one was listed as serious in various Washington area hospitals last night.
The incident was the most serious caused by high late-winter winds that often gusted to 61 mph.
They downed power lines, blew out windows, toppled chimneys, sheared tree limbs and set traffic lights and hanging signs bobbing all day in the Washington area.
Commuters heading for parking lots leaned against the wind to keep their balance, and small cars and flat-sided vans and trucks rocked and veered.
The National Weather Service issued a high-winds warning for Washington and all coastal areas east of the city for most of the day and a gale warning for the Chesapeake Bay, where winds of up to 39 miles an hour were reported.
The high of 61 miles an hour was registered in Hagerstown, Md.
At National Airport the highest gust was 55 miles an hour.
The eight Manassas Park workers were injured at 11:14 a.m. when the wind blew down the wall of an Electrodyne Inc. warehouse under construction.
Some were buried for a time in the rubble, according to Prince William fire and rescue officials. Three were evacuated by helicopter.
Last night, Melvin Sours, 54, and Tim Boston, 24, were in critical condition at Washington Hospital Center with multiple traumatic injuries.
Robert Blackburn, 26, was in critical condition at Fairfax Hospital with head injuries and a right leg fracture.
Another worker, Clifford Wilson, 37, was in serious condition at Fairfax Hospital with chest and head injuries.
The four other workers were listed in stable condition at Prince William Hospital in Manassas with a variety of fractures and abrasions.
The contractor building the warehouse is E.H. Glover of Fairfax. Manassas Park building officials said the project met all construction codes at the time of the accident.
In other wind-related incidents around the region yesterday:
* Three large windows were shattered about 11:30 a.m. in a high-rise Honeywell Inc. building at Tysons Corner, spraying glass into the lobby and slightly injuring two persons.
* A bricklayer was injured in the Centreville area of Fairfax County when a cinderblock wall of a warehouse under construction collapsed onto scaffolding and he fell 20 feet.
* Vepco and Pepco reported scattered power outages in Loudoun and Fairfax counties, Takoma Park, Northeast Washington and the Powder Road area of Prince George's County. About 7,000 homes lost power at some point in the day as a result of trees falling on power lines, representatives for the utilities said.
* Three walls of New Hope United Baptist Church, under construction in western Prince William County, collapsed and the floor fell through to the basement.