City sees brunt of storms
Falling tree damages Lawrenceville apartment

LAWRENCEVILLE - It's become a recurring theme: Thunderstorm pummels Gwinnett. Damage amasses. Worries mount. The Fire Department busily files into action.

The latest round of costly thunderstorms blew through Gwinnett in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, making its mark most felt in greater Lawrenceville.

Perhaps the most harrowing incident came when a felled tree crashed into an apartment building above a bedroom full of children.

Several small children were reportedly in the room at the time but were not injured. Officials said the tree fell about 12:17 a.m. at an apartment complex in the 2500 block of Windy Hill Point in Lawrenceville.

"The tree came to rest in the attic above the apartment," said Fire Department spokesman Capt. Thomas Rutledge.

Firefighters evacuated the six-unit building as a precaution, then went in to assess the damage, Rutledge said.

In an unrelated incident, firefighters responded just after midnight to a tree that collapsed on power lines in the 500 block of Whitehall Lane in Lawrenceville.

"The tree was reportedly struck by lightning and snapped in half," Rutledge said.

No injuries or structural damages were reported.

The Gwinnett Daily Post, headquartered in Lawrenceville, was not immune to the electrical storm's force.

About 12:25 a.m., storms knocked out power to the Post's production facility, causing a printing delay and glitch in computer systems. Power was restored around 4 a.m., and carriers were on the streets three hours later.

The Post's office is located about a mile from the downed power lines.

Gwinnett got a second dose of bad weather - and damage - Tuesday evening as a wide band of storms moved through the metro area during rush hour, prompting the Fire Department to activate its emergency operations plan.

There were nine reported building fires, three of which turned out to be working fire situations, Rutledge said. The most serious incident occurred in Buford where a residence in the 900 block of Creekview Bluff Way sustained severe fire damage after lightning struck the two-story structure. No injuries were reported. The Red Cross was contacted to assist the displaced occupants.

In addition to an extra engine company put into service for the storm, units from Loganville, DeKalb and Hall counties provided mutual aid to unmanned Gwinnett fire stations during Tuesday evening's onslaught.

The storms are evidence that Gwinnett's relatively tempestuous summer continues.

During a particularly violent storm last week, firefighters across Gwinnett responded to more than 140 incident calls in a three-hour span. The Fire Department activated its emergency operation plan, marking the fourth time that measure has been taken to counter severe storms this season, officials said.

- Reporter Alex P. Joyner contributed to this report