White out conditions and multiple car crashes caused Route 61 to close near Cross Lake. Credit: Melissa Lizotte | Star-Herald

CROSS LAKE, Maine — Multiple car crashes near the Cross Lake area, including a five-car pileup near Cross Lake, as well as poor weather conditions resulted in a temporary closure along Route 161, according to state police.

At around 12:25 on Saturday, March 14, the first 911 call reporting an accident in the area was made to the Houlton Regional Communications Center. Within minutes, several more cars crashed in the area, creating a pileup of five cars after three separate accidents.

“Route 161 will be closed due to whiteout conditions in Cross Lake until further notice,” said Sergeant Joshua Haines of Maine State Police-Troop F at the time of the accidents. “Motorists are encouraged to avoid the area if at all possible.”

While the road has since been reopened, Haines stated the police were still recommending to avoid the area if possible due to the weather conditions.

“Motorists are encouraged to avoid the area until the wind lets up. If you find yourself stuck in a whiteout and can’t move, keep your headlights and hazard lights on and call 911. Do not get out of the vehicle,” Haines said. “Staying in the whiteout area is very dangerous and is likely to cause more crashes.”

High winds are making driving visibility in other parts of Aroostook County low as well. Earlier this morning, a non-fatal crash was reported in Mapleton, near Presque Isle. Crashes have also been reported in Woodland and Westfield.