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As many as 16,000 customers remained without power Wednesday after strong overnight storms moved across the Twin Cities and central Minnesota.

Strong winds felled trees on Hennepin Avenue in the Uptown area of Minneapolis, Vadnais Heights, Little Canada and in the Dayton's Bluff area of St. Paul, the National Weather Service said.

Winds as high as 67 mph in Bloomington knocked down power lines and sparked fires, the Bloomington Fire Department said. Wind gusts of 62 mph were reported at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and Richfield, and 55 mph in Eden Prairie.

Lightning hit a house in the east metro city of Grant, causing it to catch fire, the Washington County Sheriff's Office said. A homeowner in the 11000 block of Great Oak Trail reported hearing a bolt of lightning about 1 a.m. Wednesday and a strong smell of gas. Deputies arrived and found a fire inside the residence, said Laura Perkins, a sheriff's office spokesperson.

The two adults inside and their pets were able to get out, and no injuries were reported, Perkins said.

The home was in a part of the city without fire hydrants, and tankers had to transport water to the scene. Chief Terry Fischer of the Mahtomedi Fire Department ruled the lightning strike as the cause of the fire. The home is said to be a total loss.

Storms moved across Minnesota from west to east Tuesday night and led the National Weather Service to issue storm warnings around 11 p.m. in areas that included Hutchinson, Redwood Falls and Olivia. Tree damage was reported in Norwood Young America and wind gusts as high as 81 mph were reported in Hector, Minn., the Weather Service said.

The storms arrived in the Twin Cities just before midnight Tuesday and knocked out power to as many as 75,000 customers before moving into Wisconsin. By Wednesday morning, that number had been reduced to about 16,000, including 12,000 customers without electricity in the west metro and about 2,400 in the east metro, Xcel Energy said.

Lightning strikes early Wednesday during a thunderstorm over Minneapolis.
Lightning strikes early Wednesday during a thunderstorm over Minneapolis.

Alex Kormann, Star Tribune