April 05, 2020

Power back on after Friday’s windy deluge Lightning causes fire in Canaan

AUGUSTA – Maine utility companies worked Sunday to complete power restoration for the last of thousands of customers who lost electricity Friday night as high winds and rain buffeted the state.

The storm, which dumped up to 3 inches of rain on the state, was responsible for at least one fire in Somerset County. A lightning strike Friday night apparently ignited a fire that destroyed a vacant Maple Lane residence in Canaan, according to the town’s fire chief.

A neighbor reported about 8:37 p.m. Friday that he’d heard a lightning strike very close to his house, Canaan Fire Chief Ray Small said Saturday afternoon. The same caller told a dispatcher that when he looked outside, he saw the house next door was engulfed in flames.

Fire departments and tankers from Skowhegan, Hartland, Clinton and Burnham were called in to assist, according to the fire chief. Despite Friday night’s high winds, no other homes were in danger, Small said.

Because Maple Lane is a very narrow road, firefighters laid about 1,200 feet of 4-inch hose from firetrucks parked on a wider cross street, Small said. The lane is not wide enough for two trucks to pass each other.

The fire was brought under control in about 30 minutes, the fire chief said Saturday.

Because the owner, Patrick Donovan, was not living at the house, power had been shut off, according to the fire chief.

Small also said that he did not know where Donovan was living or if the home was insured.

The National Weather Service in Caribou said Sunday afternoon that a small but intense low-pressure system had produced up to 3 inches of rain Friday night and Saturday morning before moving off to the Maritimes. The heaviest rain was recorded in the St. John Valley with nearly 3.5 inches reported in Lille and 2.5 inches reported in Fort Kent.

Winds gusts of more than 60 mph were reported on Mount Desert Island, according to the weather service. Along the coast of Washington County, wind gusts were more than 50 mph.

By Sunday afternoon, repair crews for Central Maine Power Co. and Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. had restored power to nearly all of the more than 20,000 customers who had lost power because of high winds and falling tree limbs.

Bangor Hydro estimated that about 3,277 customers were without power, with a big share in the Milo-Brownville area.

CMP said 18,500 customer accounts were affected. Hard-hit areas included Farmington, Brunswick, Lewiston and Bridgton, CMP said.

Thickening clouds Sunday night were expected to bring showers – most as rain, but possibly as snow in the north and mountains.

The weather service said a redeveloping low pressure system near the coast Monday was expected to keep clouds over Maine and New Hampshire for most of the day with a chance of showers.

Unsettled weather could last through Tuesday, and cool temperatures are likely to extend through the week, the weather service said.

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