The first big storm of winter that hit early Saturday morning caused a plow truck to catch fire, shut down roads in Androscoggin County for hours after a tractor trailer turned over, knocked out power to a popular ski area, left thousands of Mainers in the dark Sunday evening, and prompted Central Maine Power Company’s President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Purington to issue a warning.

Purington in a restoration effort message posted Sunday on the utility company’s website said the nor’easter caused such extensive damage to utility lines and roads that it could take crews until Monday or even Tuesday to restore power to all of its affected customers. Purington noted that many roads were impassable.

Purington described the snowfall as heavy and wet, so saturated with moisture that the snow weighed down trees that broke and fell onto utility poles. “In some cases, we are restoring power only to have another tree fall and cause another outage,” he said. While restoration efforts were fully underway Sunday, Purington warned that it could take another day or two to reach everyone.

By Monday morning, crews had chipped away at the outages, restoring electricity to about 5,000 more customers, but about 21,000 homes and businesses mostly in Oxford and Androscoggin County were still in the dark. Oxford County still had 12,000 customers without electricity as of 9:30 a.m., and about 4,000 more in Cumberland and about 1,000 customers in Androscoggin County remained disconnected.

Downed tree over road in Stoneham in Oxford County Saturday night. The Central Maine Power outage list shows the whole town of Stoneham, 360 people, are without power. Submitted photo by Central Maine Power

“It has been a real challenge to access some parts of the system. And because we need to see and understand the extent of damage before we can estimate how long it will take to repair, we haven’t been able to provide estimated times for all customers for when repairs will be made, and power will be restored,” Purington said.

“Given the travel and access challenges, along with the extent of damage to the system, this will be a multiple day restoration effort and some customers may be out of power until late Monday evening or early Tuesday in some of the hardest hit, more remote areas of the state,” Purington said.


Communities such as Fryeburg, Lovell, Paris, Otisfield, Bridgton, Norway, Waterford were the hardest hit.

TIn a news release issued Sunday evening, CMP said it has restored power to more than 84,000 customers across the company’s service area since the storm began early Saturday morning.

About 1,700 line, vegetation and other restoration support workers including crews from Canada, Pennsylvannia and New York have been deployed and were still in the field trying to restore power Sunday night. The company also acknowledged that it has been shifting more resources to the areas of Oxford and Androscoggin, the counties that were hardest hit by the storm.

“This is a challenging restoration process as we are still finding it difficult to drive to some of the damaged parts of the system to estimate repair needs and provide restoration times,” Kerri Therriault, senior director, CMP Electric Operations, said in a statement. “And as the trees are still loaded with wet, heavy snow, we are having more limbs come down onto the system and heavy snow falling on vehicles and employees, a safety issue we need to manage and one that is causing even more outages.”

Snowfall amounts varied across the state. The National Weather Service in Gray posted totals Sunday afternoon.

Farmington got 27 inches of snow, Rangeley 24 inches, Turner 17 inches, Bridgton 18 inches, Casco 14.5, Vienna in Kennebec County 18 inches, Milton in Oxford County 27 inches, Solon in Somerset County 17 inches, Lebanon in York County 13 inches, and the Portland Jetport 4.2 inches.


The storm knocked out power to Pleasant Mountain Maine ski area in Bridgton, forcing the mountain to close Saturday and Sunday. “Regrettably we will be closed on Sunday, Dec. 18, as we are still without power, internet or phones after this weekend’s storm. We understand the impact this has on our skiers and we share in your disappointment,” the ski area wrote in a post on its Facebook page.

It was a different story at Saddleback Mountain in Sandy Brook Plantation, near Rangeley.

“Finally, Mother Nature delivered. With more than 27 inches of natural snow over the last 48 hours from the first major impact storm of the season, we are now 54 percent open with top to bottom skiing and riding,” Saddleback said in a release.

The Orland Fire Department was called to the scene of a commercial plow truck fire early Saturday morning on Cedar Swamp Road. Firefighters said the cab and engine compartment were engulfed in flames when they arrived, but the driver was able to escape safely.

Sawyer Road in Greene, near the Jillson Road, had to close for several hours after a tractor trailer truck rolled over on snow-covered roads, according to the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office.

The nor’easter rolled into Maine knocking  out power for 122,000 CMP customers during the storm’s peak, CMP spokeswoman Catharine Hartnett said.


In Oxford County nearly half of Central Maine Power customers at one point were without electricity, according to CMP’s outage list. As of Sunday morning, 19,534 customers in Oxford County were affected, including one of its smaller towns, Stoneham, where the whole town of 360 customers were without power.

Throughout the state, a total of 51,551 homes were without power Sunday morning, according to CMP.

In northern Maine, there were 10,401 Versant Power customers without electricity, according to the company’s website.

By late Sunday afternoon, around 4,000 Versant Power customers did not have electrical service, the company said in a release. Versant said heavy, wet snow on trees had caused the trees to fall on power lines.

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