All through the long winter, we couldn’t wait for summer.
And now this.
“When it was real cold this winter, I swore I would not complain about the heat,” said Claudette Gagne of Lewiston. “But damn, this is a bit much.”
Maine continued to sizzle Thursday as temperatures reached the mid-90s just about everywhere – and for the seventh straight day in some areas.
While weather forecasters are calling for cooler temperatures in coming days, there was still the matter of getting through another scorcher on Thursday.
In Brownfield, a man on Tibbetts Mountain Road hooked up a computer in his car so he could cool off with the vehicle’s air conditioning. He was rewarded for his efforts with a fire that broke out in his dashboard, the result of an overheated electrical system.
Brownfield firefighters went to Tibbetts Mountain and put the fire out. The man was not hurt, but damage to his car was significant.
Across the region, the sweaty and overheated were seeking relief anywhere they could find it. Local libraries were among those places, although most hadn’t declared themselves official cooling stations.
“Technically, we don’t have that official designation,” Lewiston Public Library Director Marcela Peres said. “But we definitely encourage anyone needing or wanting to cool off to come on in. We have air conditioning and multiple water fountains.”
Central Maine Internal Medicine at 12 High St. in Lewiston had to evacuate the building shortly before noon due to air conditioner failure.
“An HVAC/air handling device on the roof of that building malfunctioned, causing a loud noise and vibrations through the building,” said Kate Carlisle, director of public relations at Central Maine Health. “Out of an abundance of caution, we evacuated 12 High Street, asking patients, providers and staff to gather at 60 High – the main hospital building. We offered water bottles and assistance to all our patients who were evacuated. Once we ascertained, with the help of the Lewiston Fire Department, that the building was safe to re-enter, we gave the all-clear.”
In both Lewiston and Auburn, afternoon blazes kept firefighters hopping in their hot and heavy gear. Around 11:30 a.m., a fire at Wallnigford’s Fruit House on Perkins Ridge Road brought crews from several towns. Three hours later, a porch went up in flames on Howe Street in Lewiston, sending fire crews scrambling once more into the blazing heat.
Like firefighters, cops and anyone else responsible for handling emergencies, city workers had to continue doing their jobs no matter how oppressive the heat.
“Our guys are encouraged to take plenty of water breaks and to watch out for their co-workers to prevent heat stroke/exhaustion,” said David A. Jones, director of Lewiston Public Works. “If they get overheated, we get them into the trucks’ air conditioning. Knock on wood that we have been lucky through this hot spell without much for health issues.”
Local shelters were not changing their hours, although attendants were advising their tenants on ways to stay cool while out and about during daylight hours.
“Like anything else, yes, the heat does affect the guests,” said Jimi Cutting, house attendant at St. Martin de Porres in Lewiston. “We do have air conditioners on the lower floors, but rely on fans and open windows to help with the bedrooms. We advise the guys to be careful when out in the heat, to take advantage of the library and the shade at Kennedy Park.”
Air conditioners were selling briskly at area stores and in online listings. On social media, people were exchanging ideas – from DIY air conditioners to drink recipes – on how to stay cool.
Suze Blood, formerly of Auburn, now living in Lakeland, Florida, knows a thing or two about beating the heat.
“If you don’t have a pool,” she said Thursday, “make friends with someone who does.”
“Freeze your T-shirt,” suggested Erica Edwards, of South Woodstock, “before putting it on.”
It wasn’t just hot, it was dry, which means conditions are ripe for fire. Wales fire crews, with the help of firefighters from Sabattus, went out to Oak Hill Road at about 3 p.m. Thursday for a brush fire that started when a power line came down.
Firefighters and Maine forest rangers on Thursday battled flames in a variety of places, including wildfires in Liberty, Brownfield, New Sweden, Bingham and Gouldsboro.
The forecast was looking slightly cooler, with temperatures expected to top out at 80 degrees on Friday and into the weekend.