Winds, high heat take toll on area

Heat caused a few electric outages early Friday, but many more lost power in the evening as severe storms pounded Clark and Champaign counties. Winds up to 56 mph were recorded at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport. Gusts toppled trees and power lines and damaged roofs.

Some residents reported seeing funnel clouds. WHIO-TV Chief Meteorologist Jamie Simpson said he and the National Weather Service believe that was unlikely. “No damage surveys are planned anywhere. Bottom line ... everything was straight-line wind damage,” Simpson said.

At least one person was severely injured Friday in a motorcycle crash that the Ohio State Highway Patrol said was weather related.

Earlier in the day, two Springfield firefighters were taken to the hospital after fighting a fire in 95-degree weather.

Heat advisories will be in effect this weekend with forecasters calling for high temperatures and possible thunderstorms.

Cooling centers will be open until further notice, probably until July 4, said Anita Biles of the Clark County Combined Health District.

Motorcyclist hurt

A 61-year-old Mechanicsburg man was driving his motorcycle south on Middle Urbana Road near Moorefield Road when he laid his bike down to avoid a vehicle stopped in front of him for storm debris in the roadway, said Sgt. Mark Nichols of the Springfield Post.

He slid under another vehicle heading slowly north on Middle Urbana Road and suffered a serious head injury. His bike ran into the bike of the southbound vehicle.

He was not wearing a helmet.

His identity was not immediately released and his condition was not known Friday night.

Roof ripped off

More than 14,000 Clark County residents were without power at one point, according to Ohio Edison and DP&L. About 1,000 Champaign County residents lost power.

Winds gusted to a reported 80 mph in several areas the Miami Valley and caused damage throughout Clark County, including the Ronez Manor Apartments in Springfield, where a portion of roof was ripped off and thrown into the parking lot.

Six children were in the apartment when the roof came flying off, said resident Jessica Jones. No one was injured but the kids were scared, she said.

“I heard a crack,” said Andy Palmer who was watching the kids. “It sounded like a tree came down.”

Now, Jones has to worry about water damage to her belongings. “There’s water coming through my ceilings. Everything in my house is about to be destroyed.”

Jones said Ronez Manor Apartment management told her there was nothing they could do for her and that she had to find another place to stay.

The American Red Cross agreed to assist her with housing. Another affected resident declined Red Cross assistance.

The winds ripped trees from their roots and broke limbs off trees, knocking down power lines and shutting down streets in Springfield and throughout Clark County.

Springfield Fire Rescue Division had 25 runs within an hour after the storm started, Battalion Chief Matt Smith said.

“It knocked us back a couple hours, and we’re still catching up,” Smith said about 8 p.m.

Damage was also reported by emergency crews Champaign County.

Warnings, advisories

The Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission and the Regional Air Pollution Control Agency issued an air pollution advisory for ground-level ozone through Monday, saying that the air quality would be unhealthy for children, older adults and people with breathing problems like asthma.

The Clark County Combined Health District has issued a heat warning for Clark and Champaign counties that is expected to continue for several days.

“Heat illness can surprise you,” said Charles Patterson, Clark County Health Commissioner. “Early signs may be nausea, general weakness, dizziness, a headache or extreme thirst.”

The Ohio EPA issued a temporary suspension of permission for open burns due to dry conditions and reported brush fires across the state.

Firefighters treated

Two Springfield firefighters were taken to Springfield Regional Medical Center for heat-related illnesses after fighting a blaze in the 1200 block of Belmont Avenue Friday afternoon. Both firefighters were treated and released.

A woman was transported to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation, but her condition was not known Friday night, Smith said. Several pets also escaped the blaze.

At one point, 30 firefighters were assigned to the scene to rotate because of the heat, he said.

No other heat-related illnesses were reported at the emergency department at Community Mercy Health Partners, said spokesman Dave Lamb.

To prevent heat-related illnesses at the Summer Arts Festival for performers, the Springfield Arts Council took extra precautions like providing water jugs, renting industrial fans for the stage and encouraging performers to spend their breaks in air-conditioned dressing rooms, said Executive Director Chris Moore.

“We can’t afford to move shows inside, we just don’t have a budget for that, so we try to deal with the weather the best we can,” he said.

Needed rain

With the storms came much needed rain. The dry conditions have compounded the fire danger, with several grass fires being sparked along interstates across the Miami Valley.

“The rainfall we received Friday was great for our drought and brown lawns, but unfortunately sunshine Saturday will evaporate some of that rainfall and guarantee it feels very muggy again,” said WHIO’s Simpson.

The weekend forecast calls for continued hot and humid weather with highs in the mid to upper 90s, said Simpson. There are chances more thunderstorms today and Sunday could bring badly needed rain but also potentially damaging winds with late-day storms.

“We will need to watch thunderstorm development to tour northwest through the weekend. Even though a repeat of late afternoon Friday’s damaging winds is unlikely this weekend, it is not impossible we could see more storms with damaging winds the next few days,” he said.

Tattoo canceled

The highly anticipated Freedom’s Call Military Tattoo — expected to draw more than 80,000 people to Wright-Paterson Air Force Base on Friday — was canceled due to a storm that produced widespread damage across the region. Six people suffered minor injuries at Tattoo, and required a transport to local hospitals. Ten more were treated at the scene for minor injuries.

According to WPAFB Fire Chief Jacob King, air traffic controllers on base evacuated a tower after seeing what they believed was a tornado. No major damage was done to the base outside of damages to trees.

Dayton’s Cityfolk festival was also called off and customers inside the Dayton Mall were forced to evacuate after an interior wall belonging to a DSW Shoe Warehouse fell outward into the mall. It was a temporary wall set up while crews worked to complete the construction on a new Dick’s Sporting Goods store.

No one was injured, and the mall is expected to be open today.

Cityfolk is also slated to open on time today, according to Five Rivers MetroParks officials, but volunteers will be needed to clean up Riverscape area.

Contact this reporter at (937) 328-0373 or megan.gildow@coxinc.com.

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