AUBURN — Ice, sleet and snow, combined with increasing winds could be a problem through the Christmas holiday, the National Weather Service reported Monday night.

The storm that hit Saturday night and coated much of Maine in ice Sunday had not eased late Monday.

“We’re starting to see the pine trees and branches on the trees starting to bow more,” Auburn Fire Department Battalion Chief Dean Milligan said earlier Monday.

The rain had not let up, “and it’s still hovering around freezing. I don’t think we’re out of the woods yet,” he said. His crews dealt with about a half-dozen power lines downed from falling limbs or freezing rain that continued to thicken ice on wires.

It was about the same in most of Maine, with icing on trees, wires and any other exposed surface.

In Franklin County, the icy weather forced the cancellation of a memorial vigil planned Monday night in Wilton for Butch Weed, who was shot to death 10 years ago.

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A section of College Street in Lewiston was closed due to downed wires. On outer Main Street, traffic signals weren’t working. Safety workers erected stop signs to help control traffic until traffic signals were repaired.

Since Friday night, Auburn Public Works used more than 450 tons of salt and more than 500 yards of sand trying to keep roads passable. Parts of some roads, including Summer Street, Park Avenue and the North River Road, were closed at times.

“It’s an ongoing battle,” Auburn Public Works Operations Manager Kevin Doyle said. “All the equipment that can possibly go out has been out,” including plow trucks, sand trucks and sidewalk vehicles, even tree-trimming vehicles and two arborists.

In this kind of storm, which Doyle called “an icing event,” crews work around the clock. “We’ve been at it since Friday night.

“The way we do it, everybody on the first shift works 7 to 3. Then half go home; the other half stays. At 11 p.m., the guys who went home come back.”

Sand is spread on streets and roads so “you get traction for a few hours.” But with Monday’s heavy rain and freezing temperatures, the sand gets covered up and the work has to be repeated.

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Monday evening, Lt. David St. Pierre of the Lewiston Police Department reported some minor “fender benders” but otherwise it was business as usual.

Officials in Lewiston and Auburn said the primary roads were in good shape, but the secondary roads were not. Sidewalks and some secondary roads were glare ice, Milligan said.

Public safety crews responding to downed-wire calls marked poles with colored tape so Central Maine Power could more easily identify power lines that needed repair, as well as to keep the public away.

In Lewiston, Public Works Director Dave Jones said workers scrambled to deal with problems from heavy freezing rain that fell in the morning.

“We’ve had a lot of icing conditions; we’re still trying to catch up. It got really icy, really bad,” Jones said. “We’ve got wires down here and there,” he said. “There’s a lot of challenging conditions out there.”

There were no reports of serious injuries in Lewiston or Auburn, safety officials reported.

Even thought it’s almost Christmas and many people have shopping to complete, Doyle repeated the advice of other experts that motorists should stay off the roads if they don’t have to travel.

Milligan advised those who do venture out to use crampons to keep from falling on ice.

And, he added, to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, don’t run generators in the house or basement; they need ventilation.


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