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Powerful Punch: Lightning, Downpours & Hail Rock Central Maryland

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Hellgren Mike 370x278 (2) Mike Hellgren
WJZ general assignment reporter Mike Hellgren came to Maryland's News...
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MIDDLE RIVER, Md. (WJZ) — Trees down, power outages and fires sparked by lightning. Wednesday night’s storms packed a powerful punch.

Mike Hellgren crisscrossed the area checking out the damage.

Wild weather barreled through Maryland, cutting power and downing trees. Some of the most severe damage was in Middle River, where lightning hit the Orzech family’s home on Bogby Court. It caught fire.

“We just heard that big bang and then we knew he had to get the hell out,” said homeowner Lou Orzech. “When I woke up, I thought I was dreaming, but it turned out to be a reality.”

The heat from the fire was so intense, it melted the neighbor’s siding. Seven people were inside. Everyone made it out OK.

“Two of them were our grandsons, and they’re fine, they’re safe. Everyone is willing to help us and we love you all and we thank you very much,” said homeowner Debby Orzech.

As that same line of strong storms pushed through Baltimore County, lightning struck Monkton’s United Methodist Church, turning the 10-foot steeple on the 144-year-old building into a fireball.

“Praise God it’s not all gone,” said Pastor Jack Bussard. “That’s the guy that makes it work.”

Workers were able to save the historic bell. Inside, there’s some water damage, there’s damage to the floors and a lot of cleanup to do. The walls are still standing, though.

“It was just a flash and it sounded like dynamite going off. The whole house shook,” said neighbor Brian MacMillan.

Bussard credits MacMillan’s quick call to 911 with saving the building.

“The whole steeple was totally engulfed in flames when I saw it. And actually parts of the steeple were rolling down each side of the roof and onto the ground, burning on the ground,” MacMillan said.

The church family in Monkton and the Orzech family in Middle River both plan to rebuild and they’re both counting their blessings.

“A big bang woke us up. Everybody was screaming. So thank God we all got out,” said Lou Orzech.

Six years ago, a house two doors from the Orzech home was struck by lightning. Neighbors have been bringing food and clothing. One even offered to let the family stay in their home for several weeks while they’re on vacation.

The Orzechs have already raised $5,000 online.

Crews have worked to secure both sites.

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