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Storm knocks down power lines

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A severe thunderstorm and high winds on Friday led to downed power lines and trees across St. Lawrence County, with outages for thousands of customers.

A transformer fire shortly before noon in Potsdam left hundreds without power for about 90 minutes, and National Grid crews and firefighters from around St. Lawrence and Franklin counties spent much of the rest of the day responding to reports of downed trees and trees on power lines.

Several roads, including major highways such as Route 56, were closed for short periods Friday afternoon and early evening, when fallen trees blocked them. There also was a report that a structure fire in Heuvelton was sparked by a tree falling on power lines.

The early wind damage started in the northeastern portion of the county, but the calls were countywide by the dinner hour, when a band of thunderstorms, accompanied by heavy rain and strong winds, rolled through the region.

National Grid crews quickly responded to a leaning power pole outside Stewart’s Shop, 703 Ford St., Ogdensburg, shortly before 6 p.m. A tree also fell on a camper outside a Barre Street home in Ogdensburg.

Most of those without power in the Ogdensburg area were centered around Black Lake, where about 3,000 people were affected in Morristown, Hammond and the town of Oswegatchie.

Scattered pockets of several hundred customers were reported without power throughout the county.

Volunteer fire departments from the eastern portion of the county spent the better part of Friday afternoon responding to trouble calls for downed trees and branches, including one reported instance of a tree on fire along Route 420 in the town of Winthrop.

According to scanner reports, Helena, Brasher-Winthrop, Colton, Hopkinton-Fort Jackson, Nicholville and Lawrenceville all responded to such calls between 3 and 5 p.m. Friday afternoon.

Brasher-Winthrop Fire Chief Patrick M. Kowalchuk said his department responded to two calls Friday afternoon, including the one on Route 420.

“It was just sparks,” he said. “A lot of times when they fall, it will create hot spots, but there was no fire.”

As of 8 p.m., National Grid’s website said power was expected to be restored through all areas of the county by 11 p.m.

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