Storm downs trees, causes disruptions across area

Nightfall came early Tuesday night, with dark storm clouds rolling across the region around 7 p.m. and winds whipping down trees and power lines.

In Clearfield County, the Colonial Courtyard, 1300 Leonard St., Lawrence Township, an assisted living facility for seniors, was engulfed by fire about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to Unofficial reports said all residents were safely evacuated. It was unknown if the fire was storm related.

In Blair County, more than 60 calls of downed trees had been received by 8 p.m., according to the Blair County Department of Emergency Services.

One worker said he

couldn’t even guess the number of calls received, but it is likely in the hundreds as workers connected fire departments with callers.

“I’ve been on the phone with Penelec constantly,” he said.

Luckily there was no major flooding, and most calls have been regarding downed trees and power lines, he said.

Motorists traveling home along Logan Boulevard in Frankstown Township might have noticed the smell of natural gas mixed with the rain.

Geeseytown Volunteer Fire Department Deputy Chief Brian Walls said the storm caused a large tree several feet in circumferance to crack near its base. It fell at a residence between Cedar and Cypress streets and knocked off a gas meter.

“We have no way to shut it off,” Walls said, and firefighters put in a call to Peoples Natural Gas crews, who stopped the leak within half an hour.

There was no real danger from the natural gas, said Walls, as cars continued to stream past in both directions.

“It’s lighter than air,” he said, gesturing to the black skies above, “so it’s going up.”

Cambria County Department of Emergency Services workers said calls regarding “numerous trees and wires down” across the county streamed in between 7:15 and 8 p.m. before call volume returned to normal.

Cases ranged in severity from a few limbs to trees blocking roads with damage in all areas of Cambria “from top to bottom,” he said.

There also was a reported house fire along the 200 block of Kinter Road in Barr Township.

Penelec spokeswoman Beverly Green said crews likely would be working late into the evening and possibly into today’s early morning hours for the more than 1,300 Blair County customers who lost power.

As of 9 p.m., Green said workers still “haven’t yet been to every location,” of which there were many, she said, with outages spread out “across the board.”

REA Energy reported about 3,600 outages in Indiana County and 250 outages in Cambria County from the storm.

Blair emergency workers were still playing catch up into the night, even after call volume dropped around 10 p.m.

But one worker said with another storm wave coming, they were bracing for another round.

Mirror Staff Writer Kelly Cernetich is at 946-7520.