Thunderstorms create ‘chaotic’ scene near Monmouth school, knock out power to 7,400 in Brunswick area

Posted Aug. 09, 2013, at 11:18 a.m.

GRAY, Maine — Thunderstorms rolled through much of Maine on Friday morning, with thunder waking sleepers in western Maine at about 5 a.m. and a lightning strike mustering firefighters to a middle school in Monmouth soon thereafter.

Early reports of damage are minimal, but power outages darkened more than 7,000 homes and businesses in the Brunswick area for more than an hour Friday morning.

In Monmouth, a lightning strike at or near Monmouth Middle School at approximately 7:30 a.m. triggered a power surge into the electrical system, but fire was contained to the panel and the school suffered minimal damage, Monmouth Fire Chief Dan Roy said.

“It was pretty scary there for a little bit,” Roy said of the storm. “We had a few large thunder [booms], followed by actual flashes. For a good half-hour stretch it was pretty chaotic.”

“There certainly was quite a bit of lightning with the storms, meteorologist Margaret Curtis of the National Weather Service in Gray said at about 10:30 a.m. “The biggest storm hit at about 8 a.m., but there was lightning all over the state, as far north as Rangeley and there’s still some Down East.”

About 7,400 customers in Brunswick, Topsham, Harpswell and Freeport lost power Friday morning, according to Central Maine Power spokeswoman Gail Rice. The exact cause of the outage had not been determined, although Rice said it involved a substation on the west side of Brunswick. She expected electricity to be restored by 11 a.m.

Without traffic lights, police directed traffic along a stretch of Route 1 in Brunswick, Capt. Mark Waltz of the Brunswick Police Department said, but no storm-related issues were reported.

Northern Maine avoided the brunt of the storm’s impact Friday morning, with only about 60 Bangor Hydro customers without power just before 11 a.m.

Curtis said the thunder and lightning had moved Down East by mid-morning, although heavy rain was expected throughout the rest of Friday.

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