Icy roads paralyzed much of central Maine on Sunday afternoon, with dozens of crashes reported amid a period of freezing rain.

Emergency dispatch reports indicated that vehicles were off roads in the Augusta, Waterville and Skowhegan areas. In Hallowell, a van caught fire after losing control on a Greenville Street hill and hitting a utility pole. One vehicle slid off Interstate 95 in Sidney, stopping on its roof, and at one point, three cars were reported off Norris Hill Road in Monmouth. There were no reports of major injuries.

Somerset County Emergency Management Director Mike Smith said 62 reports of motor vehicle accidents and disabled vehicles had been reported in Somerset County between noon and 3:15 p.m. Sunday. A majority of the reports were weather-related, he said.

“They’re still coming in fast and furious,” Smith said in the late afternoon. “My suggestion would be for people to stay off the road unless they absolutely have to drive.”

There were about a dozen crashes in Hallowell alone, according to Lt. Roy Girard of the city’s fire department. In Augusta, nine accidents were reported between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. Four disabled vehicles were reported on South Belfast Avenue, where one police officer struggled to get his cruiser up a hill on South Belfast Avenue because of ice, according to Sgt. Christopher Shaw of the city police department.

“The trucks are having trouble keeping up with the ice that’s coming down,” Shaw said.

All state plow crews were mobilized around noon, said Ted Talbot, spokesman for the Maine Department of Transportation. Just before that, the National Weather Service issued a freezing rain advisory for much of the state in Kennebec and Androscoggin counties, along with parts of Franklin, Somerset, Waldo, Cumberland and Oxford counties. In many of those places, the advisory will remain in effect until 7 p.m. on Sunday.

Temperatures in the area hovered just below freezing, at around 32 degrees, although the rain was expected to clear up by Monday morning, according to meteorologist Stacie Hanes of the National Weather Service in Gray. On Monday, temperatures should rise to between 35 and 40 degrees before returning to the teens and single digits later in the week, Hanes said, with between three-quarters of an inch and an inch of rain expected by Sunday’s end.


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