Storm causes power outages
An estimated 3,500 homes and businesses were left in the dark by power outages during a wave of thunderstorms that crossed Indiana County early Monday evening.
At least one home in the Indiana area was damaged by a bolt of lightning, officials said.
Lightning strikes blew out fuses on the Penelec system and interrupted service to about 1,500 customers at the peak of the outages, said publicist Bill Uhlig, at the First Energy office in Johnstown.
[PHOTO: A lightning strike streaked over Indiana Monday evening in this photo shot from the parking lot of St. Bernard of Clairvaux Church in Indiana. Frequent, vivid lightning could be seen over much of the county during a storm that triggered gusty wind and heavy rain and caused power outages for about 3,000 customers. The chance of severe storms persists for the next few days, especially today and Wednesday when highs will be near 90. (Mike Walker/Gazette photo)]
Penelec linemen restored service to most customers by 10 p.m., he said. Most outages were reported in Indiana, White Township and Rayne Township.
About 2,000 customers of REA Energy also lost power at the height of the storm, mainly due to disruption of power supplies to the REA system, according to business development manager Chad Carrick. The blackouts hit the ShadoWood Village and Parkwood areas, and were scattered through other sections of White, Armstrong and Young townships.
Carrick said most REA customers were back online by 5 a.m.
Lightning hit a house at 1645 Saltsburg Ave., White Township, and broke off a small section of the chimney, according to Indiana Fire Association officers.
Volunteers from IFA Company 4 responded at 7:32 p.m., checked for fire damage and found none. The tenant, John Druschel, was not injured, officials said.
Less than 10 minutes earlier, ICA Company 3 was dispatched to Winchester Road, White Township, where firefighters found about half of a 25-foot-tall pine tree consumed by flames. Firefighters worked 45 minutes to extinguish the flames. Officials said there was no other damage.