Updated 08/03/11 – 3:32 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Nearly 6,000 homes and businesses in the Chicago area were still without power Wednesday afternoon, after two powerful thunderstorms swept through the area overnight.

Lightning bolts from the two storms also sparked several house fires throughout the evening and overnight.

On Tuesday evening, two back-to-back storms came blowing into the area.

The first strong thunderstorm blew across the Wisconsin state line and through the Chicago area Tuesday evening, although it moved out onto Lake Michigan before it hit much of the southern part of Chicago and the southern suburbs. The second storm hit further south late Tuesday night, and by the end of the evening, no one in the area had been spared.

CBS 2 Meteorologist Mary Kay Kleist says winds gusted to 70 mph, and there were even reports of funnel clouds.


As of 2:30 p.m., ComEd reported 5,700 customers were without power in the Chicago area. Of those, 2,300 were in the northern suburbs; 1,800 were in the southern suburbs; 1,200 were in the city and 350 were in the western suburbs, according to ComEd spokesman Bennie Currie.

There were around 143,000 total outages as a result of the storms Tuesday. ComEd says its crews have restored around 125,000 of those customers so far.

And as CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports, lightning caused severe damage to a house in Naperville. A lightning bolt struck the house in the 1100 block of Augustana Drive around 10 p.m., and smoke and flames were pouring out of the house when firefighters arrived around 10 minutes later.

Firefighters had to climb a ladder to the second floor to extinguish the fire. It took about 15 minutes to put out the main blaze, and another 90 minutes to make sure all the hot spots were out.

The family who lived in the house had made it out safely, but the house sustained significant damage. Firefighters had to remove quite a bit of the roof to try to get at the hot spots.

Altogether, the fire caused an estimated $150,000 to the house, which was left uninhabitable.

Lightning also struck a home in south suburban Frankfort, which became engulfed in flames. Crews were on the scene to fight a second-alarm fire that broke out on the roof of the house in the 22500 block of Home Court. No one was home at the time.

That fire caused $400,000 in damage.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports

WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports the couple who live in the house were vacationing in Colorado at the time of the fire, and are now on their way home. Their cat made it out of the house safely.

Lightning was also blamed for a fire that broke out in the 500 block of East 13th Street in Lockport, and another that swept through a house in the 700 block of Autumn Drive in Bolingbrook, authorities told the Sun-Times Media Wire.

In Tinley Park, lightning struck an electrical line, causing a power surge in the 8600 block of Brookside Glen Drive that damaged some electronics in one home, the Sun-Times Media Wire reported.

Winds from the storm was also blamed for a gas leak at a building at 1800 S. Park Ave. in Streamwood, which was caused by damage to a rooftop heating unit, the Sun-Times Media Wire reported.

In Antioch, a woman in her 20s was struck by lightning during the storm, according to Antioch police. She was in stable condition Tuesday evening.

And regardless of where you were, the rain came down in sheets. If you were unlucky enough to get stuck in it, there wasn’t much you could do except resign yourself to getting soaked.

Many area residents also suffered damage to their property. Paul and Mary Bernhard from the Manhattan Township in Will County showed CBS 2 a picnic table that flew into their garage doors, and they also lost an apple tree.

The Bernhards said the storm sounded like a fast-moving train when it moved through.

The power outages also knocked out several traffic lights as the morning rush approached, including those in the busy heart of the Wicker Park neighborhood at Milwaukee, Damen and North avenues, CBS 2’s Derrick Young reported. Traffic signal outages were also a major problem in Hanover Park.

Overnight, at O’Hare International Airport, there were delays averaging about 45 minutes as a result of the storm. Midway International Airport was not reporting any storm-related delays.

The storm also caused delays on two Metra lines due to the high winds from the storm.

The Union Pacific Northwest and Union Pacific North Lines were temporarily shut down during the storm due to the high winds. In total, six trains were delayed as a result, between 23 and 115 minutes, depending on the train.

No other Metra lines were affected by the storm.

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