BALTIMORE (AP) — Baltimore Gas and Electric says outages are expected to increase as heavy rains continue to fall on ground already saturated by Hurricane Irene.

The utility says trees and tree limbs already weakened by the hurricane are more likely to fall onto power lines and equipment.

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More than 7,000 customers were without power about 5 p.m. Wednesday with more than 17,000 restored since 11:30 a.m. About 5,000 of the outages were in Baltimore and Baltimore County.

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The utility also said it was retaining about 200 out-of-state linemen and support personnel who had been brought in to help with restoration from Hurricane Irene, which knocked out power to more than 750,000 of its 1.2 million electric customers.

Pepco said about 2,300 customers were without power Wednesday afternoon in the Washington area.

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