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Severe weather in Wheeling area leaves three firefighters injured, thousands without power

WHEELING, W.Va. — Many citizens in the Wheeling area were awakened overnight Monday into Tuesday by severe weather that has left thousands without power, damage to clean up all over the city and three firefighters recovering from injuries.

Shortly after 1 a.m., Tuesday a severe weather system with wind gusts near 70 mph ripped through Ohio County and parts of the Northern Panhandle. As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, Appalachian Power reported over 15,000 customers in Ohio County are without power.

Phillip Stahl, the Wheeling Fire/Police Department PIO told MetroNews that many power lines and poles are down around the city. An incident with a down electrical line injured three Wheeling firefighters overnight.

Philip Stahl

According to Stahl, the Wheeling Fire Department was called to 2141 Market Street around 1:30 a.m. after a downed electrical line caught the rear portion of the building’s roof on fire. Crews were able to contain the fire to the back of the building, and those living inside were able to escape safely.

During the incident, two firefighters were treated after being shocked due to a power issue related to the storm. A third firefighter was injured from a fall due to treacherous conditions. All were taken to Wheeling Hospital to be evaluated for their injuries. Two have since been discharged, and the third is still being treated, he said.

“It was a very dangerous situation. They were trying to suppress a fire in a lightning storm with high winds,” Stahl said.

Stahl said he’ll spend much of Tuesday surveying damage around the city with the public safety team, and city and county emergency officials. On Tuesday morning, he was at Wheeling Park where he believed was the epicenter of the storm damage.

“Wheeling Park has tons of trees and branches down, it’s almost undrivable at this point. Crews are working to clear that up,” Stahl said.

“There are various trees down throughout the area itself with down power lines and power poles.”

In downtown, most buildings are without power and Stahl said some had roofs blown off and windows shattered. He spotted glass along a few sidewalks.

The City of Wheeling closed its offices and Centre Market on Tuesday due to power outages.

Stahl said there is minimal damage, if any, from flooding. He said the focus for emergency and power crews is to work on getting electricity restored before the heat hits the area. Temperatures are expected to be well into the 90’s on Wednesday and Thursday in Wheeling.

There is no word on when power may be restored for the majority of Appalachian Power customers in Ohio County or across the state. Over 63,000 Appalachian Power customers in West Virginia remained without power as of 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Appalachian Power spokesman Phil Moye spoke to MetroNews and said, “Most of this is high wind damage. A lot of outage cases. Just out of our Milton service center alone, we have about 140 places where we have to go and asses damage and make repairs.”

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