Friday, March 7, 2014
By Michael Shepherd email@example.com
First responders and Central Maine Power line crews were out in force Sunday after high winds caused power outages, downed trees and fueled fires in many central Maine communities.
At 3:34 p.m., CMP was reporting more than 23,000 customers without service from York to Piscataquis counties, more than 19,000 of them in Franklin, Somerset, Kennebec, Lincoln and Sagadahoc counties. Just after 5 p.m., more than 16,000 were out of power.
In Kennebec County, where just over 1,100 had no power in the mid-afternoon, Sgt. David Bucknam of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office said his office had been fielding reports of downed trees in Readfield, Fayette, Litchfield and Windsor roadways.
The Monmouth and Wales fire departments spent nearly two hours fighting a blaze in a woodpile at the Maine Apple Company on Norris Hill Road in Monmouth, said Dan Roy Jr., the town’s fire chief.
He said the blaze was, at once, wind-fueled and wind-mitigated. He said a hot ember from a wood boiler near a 15-foot woodpile apparently was kicked up into the pile, starting a deep-seated fire in the pile just 15 feet from the apple company’s main building. But once it started burning, the wind blew the fire away from the building.
“We were so fortunate that the wind was blowing in the southerly direction,” Roy said. “If it had been blowing the other way, we would have had a much more serious fire on our hands.
In Augusta, Fire Department Battalion Chief Daniel Guimond said a window in the third-floor attic of a home on Glenwood Street was damaged after a spruce tree, between 40 and 50 feet tall, landed on the home at approximately 3:40 p.m. On Sunday evening, he said the department was lighting the scene for the tree company taking the tree off the home, and it was unknown if the tree damaged the roof or siding.
In Somerset County, calls started coming in to the emergency dispatchers just after 2 a.m. Sunday reporting trees and power lines down. By 3:34 p.m., more than 3,600 outages were scattered countywide. St. Albans was hardest-hit, with 895 out of 1,330 customers losing power.
In Franklin County, where more than 4,300 lost power, Phillips, Avon and Madrid were completely blacked out. Nearly 4,800 were without power in Lincoln County, more than half in the coastal town of Bristol. More than 5,000 were without power in Sagadahoc County, more than two-thirds of them in Bath and Woolwich.
Grass and brush fires, many from downed power lines, also were widely reported across the region, including in Monmouth and Winthrop.
The National Weather Service said wind gusts today are expected to reach 50 mph, with a high-wind advisory in effect until 1 a.m. Monday. Falling temperatures overnight Sunday into Monday are expected to produce wind-chill temperatures near or below zero.
Staff Writer Doug Harlow contributed to this report.Michael Shepherd — firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter: @mikeshepherdme