Winds leave 15,000 in dark

Posted Dec. 25, 2008, at 7:54 p.m.

The lights on the tree went dark for some residents Christmas morning as strong winds caused power outages throughout the state.

More than 15,000 were left without power at the peak of the problem.

Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. began dispatching line crews at 3 a.m. as calls of outages started coming in from across the region. The problems were caused by high winds knocking limbs and trees onto electric utility lines.

The company reported that approximately 1,700 customers were without power in much of its service area at some point Thursday. There were 1,373 homes and businesses left without power in Penobscot County, 244 in Hancock County, 67 in Washington County and 59 in Piscataquis County.

By 4:56 p.m. Bangor Hydro said that 70 customers were without power in Hancock County, 122 in Piscataquis County, 12 in Penobscot County and four in Washington County.

Some customers in Millinocket, Milo and Enfield could remain without power until this morning.

Most remaining outages are in remote areas, which are harder to reach, Bangor Hydro said.

Earlier Thursday, Bangor Hydro said a broken utility pole had to be replaced in Ellsworth, causing an outage of about two hours for 150 customers.

“We know customers want to enjoy Christmas without power outages,” said Bangor Hydro spokeswoman Susan Faloon. “We also want to get our crews home safe and sound to their families to enjoy the holiday, so they’ll work as quickly and safely as possible.”

Central Maine Power Co. reported that as many as 14,000 customers across its service area were without power at one point Christmas morning. By midday, 3,500 were still without power, including 1,500 in the Brunswick area, 400 in Farmington and 47 in Skowhegan.

“The crews are out there working and we’re making good headway,” a line supervisor said Thursday afternoon. “It covered every one of our service areas. Nobody was spared this time.”

Both companies indicated that crews would continue to work on the problem until power is restored to all of their customers.

There were no significant problems caused by the wind in Aroostook County, although brief power outages took place in Houlton and Caribou.

In Caribou, two road signs were tilted sideways when wind gusted through the area and a piece of siding on the Caribou Police Department became slightly dislodged. No injuries were reported.

Wind gusts of 50 mph diminished during the afternoon, easing the threat of additional outages.

BDN writers Jen Lynds and Jessica Bloch and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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