Areas of central Maine got whacked with heavy rain and wind Wednesday, causing some property damages and power outages, and more stormy weather in forecast in time for the Fourth of July.

The National Weather Service in Gray was forecasting showers and potentially severe storms from through Friday.

Chris Kimble, a forecaster at the weather service, said a severe thunderstorm watch was issued for later Thursday for the Waterville area, with a band of storms forming to the southwest and moving to the northeast. Some of the storms could be severe, he said, carrying the potential to knock down trees and utility poles, leading to power outages in parts of the state.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Arthur, which was barreling up the East Coast Thursday, was not expected to directly cause much damage in Maine, according to Michael Sempa, a meteorologist with the service.

Weather service forecasters were predicting the hurricane would move well to the east of Cape Cod Friday night. But its impact will still be felt, Sempa said, because the combination of the storm and the predicted thunderstorms could mean weather that will interfere with outdoor activities over the holiday weekend.

Sempa said Hurricane Arthur could indirectly cause heavy rain as it spirals out to sea.

“The potential for heavier rains is from the moisture from the cold front,” he said. “The actual tropical storm is well to our east but intersects with that cold front.”

The storm could also mean some hazards at the coast, with the storm pushing higher waves along and an increased danger of dangerous rip currents, he said.

Thunderstorms rolled into the region Wednesday night, causing a series of fires and power outages.

In the Belgrade Lakes area, trees came crashing down onto some lakeside camps. No injuries were reported.

Franklin County firefighters were split between two lightning fires that broke out simultaneously, one of which resulted in heavy damage to a Farmington home.

Farmington Fire Chief Terry Bell said that as the department was dispatching two fire trucks on a mutual aid call to a New Sharon lightning fire at around 4:30 p.m., a man drove up to the station in his car to report a fire at his Morrison Hill Road home. The man said that he didn’t have a working phone to report the fire, so he drove to the station to summon help.

Bell said with the help of mutual aid from other communities, the Morrison Hill Road fire was quickly extinguished. The house, owned by Russ Christensen, was heavily damaged, the chief said.

“It was quite extensive,” he said.

Bell said by the time the fire crew they could see the black smoke from the fire as they approached the scene.

About 40 firefighters, including mutual aid from Jay, Farmington, Wilton and Temple, were able to get the flames under control in about an hour and remained at the scene for about three hours.

The lightning strike fire in New Sharon, on Cape Cod Hill Road, was put out quickly with the help of firefighters from Farmington and Chesterville.

Fire departments were able to respond quickly to the lightning strike fires because during severe weather volunteer and call firefighters often gather in anticipation of being called out. Bell also said it helped that there was an additional paid staff member at the Farmington Fire Department, the result of a decision by voters in March to another paid firefighter to the department.

Along with damage caused by lightning, the storm and high winds caused up to 18,000 Central Maine Power customers to lose power Wednesday evening, with the highest concentration in Oxford, Piscataquis and Franklin counties.

Power crews worked to restore power throughout the night and by noon Thursday, power was restored to most of the affected customers, with the highest concentration of people without power in Oxford County.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

[email protected]

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