High winds impact area

  • Utility poles tip heavily at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Greenfield after being blown over by high winds Wednesday. Contributed photo

  • A building at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Greenfield was toppled by high winds Wednesday afternoon. Contributed photo

  • High winds Wednesday afternoon damaged trees at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Greenfield. Contributed photo

  • A storm scene on Wendell Road in Shutesbury. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/ROLAND BROCK

  • High winds downed this tree in Athol. STAFF PHOTO/JACKI CARON

  • High winds toppled this tree over power lines in Athol. STAFF PHOTO/JACKI CARON

Staff Writer
Published: 10/7/2020 5:53:47 PM

Strong winds downed trees, branches and power lines across Franklin County on Wednesday evening, in some cases blocking the paths of drivers until emergency personnel could arrive. 

In Northfield, emergency personnel rescued a 60-year-old New Hampshire man trapped in a vehicle after trees and three-phase power lines came down around him, blocking his way both directions, according to Northfield Fire Chief Floyd “Skip” Dunnell III. He was on Route 10, in the vicinity of the Northfield Boat Ramp. 

“He was traveling south on Route 10 when the storm hit,” Dunnell said. “It brought all three primary wires down. … They were energized and burning on the ground in close proximity to the car. One of the primaries was wedged in his trunk lid.”

When first responders arrived, they ordered the man via loudspeaker to remain in the vehicle and not to touch anything until the power company and other emergency personnel arrived. 

With Routes 10 and 63 closed, firefighters and members of the power company were able to cut the tree away from the Dodge Magnum, “and (the driver) went on his way,” according to Dunnell. 

“It was definitely a life-threatening situation,” he said. 

As of 7:40 p.m. on Wednesday, that portion of the state highway continued to be closed while workers removed wires from the road. Although most of Northfield’s power was restored as of 8 p.m., Dunnell expected the northern part of town to remain “dark” through the night.

Police and fire departments across the county have taken to social media to announce road closures, and to advise residents against approaching downed wires. 

Hundreds of customers of National Grid and Eversource have lost power, according to maps created by each power company.

In Conway, more than 1,000 customers were reportedly without power as of 8 p.m. on Wednesday, according to Eversource. In Montague, about 900 of their customers were reportedly without power.

Eversource continues to evaluate the outages to determine the estimated time of restoration. 

The Deerfield Fire Department responded to a report of a gas leak Wednesday evening at Pan Am Railway in East Deerfield – though whether the leak was a result of storm damage is under investigation, according to Cynthia Scarano, a spokesperson for the company.

“We had some roof damage on one of the buildings and some trees down,” she said. “Electricity poles went down, so we’ve got some work ahead of us.”

Scarano said there were no injuries, and the yard was evacuated for “precautionary reasons.”

The Shelburne Control Dispatch Center also advised all Franklin County fire departments to “man” their stations if possible.

According to the National Weather Service, the high wind warning is expected to last until 2 a.m.

Greenfield Recorder

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