RUMFORD —  Freezing rain that began early Saturday morning and continued into the afternoon forced the town of Rumford to close all of its streets to traffic by noon.

The alert was posted on the Rumford Police Department’s Facebook site as a “Special Announcement.”

“Please do not risk your life driving on the roads,” the announcement read. “Posting will follow when the roads are deemed safe. Thanks for your understanding.”

Police wanted the roads cleared of traffic so emergency vehicles could treat the ice-slicked pavement “in the event of a serious emergency,” according to the announcement.

Elsewhere in Maine, a weather-related car accident killed two people in Hollis when a 17-year-old driver lost control of his van and struck a pickup Saturday afternoon, according to Maine State Police. Two passengers in the van were killed.

Early Saturday morning, four tractor-trailers and a passenger vehicle shut down the southbound portion of the Maine Turnpike near Exit 55 in Falmouth when they collided on an icy section of road, Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland reported.

Also on Saturday, a plane arriving in Bangor from New York slid off the runway onto the grass and had to be towed to the terminal. No injuries were reported.

The Rumford road-closing was expected to be lifted when the temperature rose above freezing, as the forecast predicted.

Rumford police Sgt. Douglas Maifeld said Saturday afternoon that he didn’t think Rumford had ever closed its roads due to an ice storm.

“First (time) I can remember in my 25-plus years,” Maifeld said.

By 4:52 p.m., the department’s initial roads-closed alert had more than 22,500 views and 956 shares on Facebook.

“It was great to reach so many people,” Maifeld said.

Rumford police posted another update at 4 p.m., warning drivers of flooding atop ice as heavy rain arrived.

“It has warmed above 32 (F.) finally,” the update stated. “A check of the in-town roads is showing a lot of flooding. Be careful as the flooding covers a lot of the ice. It is difficult to stop in many places due to the ice.”

The update said the Rumford Public Works crew “is still out trying to clean the roads as best they can; this includes opening drains.

“Out-of-town roads are horrible, other than Route 2, which is only bad (and) not horrible,” the update read. “If you must travel, do so slowly. There are no roads right now in Rumford or Oxford County, for that matter, where you should be driving anywhere near the speed limit. Some smaller roads, side roads and less traveled roads are still in dangerously slick condition.”

At 4:56 p.m., a Med-Care Ambulance crew radioed dispatchers in Paris seeking help because they were stuck on icy Plymouth Avenue in Rumford while taking a patient to Rumford Hospital.

Rumford residents replying to the Police Department’s initial alert said roads in town were sheer ice and hadn’t been sanded.

“There is not sand or salt that has been laid on these roads,” Heather Mae Conley said. “They are nothing but sheets of ice. It is very dangerous to be out there right now.”

“It is like driving across a frozen lake, without any snow for traction,” Kevin Saisi said.

Linda Richard Wilt posted, “It’s a nightmare out there. Don’t go out if you can help it!”

Vickie Broomhall Amoros said that for the first time, a sand truck was backing up Isthmus Road to apply sand because it was so slippery.

Marie Cote Woods said it was so icy out that she couldn’t even walk to Hannaford, a short distance from her home.

The Police Department responded to a query about how people already on the road in Auburn could get into Rumford, stating, “There are not blockades anywhere at this point, although Route 108 is down to one lane.”

At about the same time that Rumford police issued its alert, the Oxford County Emergency Management Agency in Paris told drivers to stay off the roads.

“Oxford County citizens: Please do not travel unless absolutely necessary!” the bulletin stated. “All roads in Oxford County have been reported to be impassable by public safety officials. Please refrain from dialing 911 unless you are experiencing a life safety emergency.

“Town public works departments are working to make road travel safe. Please be patient with the road conditions and stay home if possible,” the EMA alert stated.

By 1:15 p.m. when the National Weather Service initially said the freezing rain would end, it updated the bulletin on its Facebook site, extending it by nearly two hours.

“Freezing rain advisory has been extended until 3 p.m. for the interior, as temperatures are very slowly warming, with many icy spots,” the NWS bulletin stated.

More than two dozen accidents and vehicles off the road in need of emergency assistance were logged by dispatchers for Lisbon and Sabattus, including the single-vehicle rollover of a 57-year-old woman whose Toyota SUV turned over on Main Street in Lisbon, Lisbon Police Sgt. Scott Stewart said.

The Auburn Police Department also used its Facebook site at about 9:30 a.m., urging drivers to stay off the roads.

“Freezing rain has made traveling dangerous this morning,” the department’s alert stated.

“Please stay off the roads until later in the day when the temperature rises and the freezing rain changes over to rain. Public Works trucks are out in full force, but are having difficulty keeping up with the freezing rain. Cars are sliding off the roads all throughout the city. Stay home this morning if possible.”

One Auburn resident replied to the message, telling people that between Haskell and Lake streets “is bad. Four cars stuck and one off the road (and) no salt or dirt on the road.”

On Hotel Road Saturday night a transformer lit up and sparked due to ice build-up, police said.

In Lewiston, a dispatcher for the Public Works Department said three of its sand trucks had gone off roads; one hit a tree and another flipped over. She said those two trucks had been put out of commission.

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