AUGUSTA — A drastic change in the unseasonably hot weather in central Maine on Friday sent public safety and first responders scrambling after reports of accidents and fires cropped up across the region.

The culprit was a strong cold front that moved through the region Friday afternoon, bringing lightning, thunder and rain that was heavy in spots.

Before the cold front arrived, Augusta’s high temperature of 91 degrees broke a record set in 1990 when the temperature reached 86 degrees.

Stephen Baron, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, said the heat provided the energy that resulted in late afternoon thunderstorms as a cold front moved across central Maine from the northwest.

Across the area, reports of accidents, downed power lines and fires accompanied the change in weather conditions.

Jonathan Breed, spokesman for Central Maine Power Co., said the storms caused scattered power outages across the company’s service area, with lightning strikes and fallen trees being the primary cause of the service disruption. In total, about 1,429 customers in Kennebec County and 641 customers in Somerset County were affected.


In Chelsea, fire departments from several towns responded to a home on Logan Ridge Drive, where the homeowner reported a fire.

Chelsea Fire Chief Shawn Ramage said lighting apparently struck a garage between 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.,  on Logan Ridge Road and started the exterior on fire. At the time, there was concern the fire would spread to a gas tank, but that didn’t happen.

“The homeowner came home between the lightning strike and spotting the fire,” Ramage said, noting that the Togus Fire Department was on scene first, only moments later.

Baron said the heat of the day contributed to the strength of the storm, which dropped up to a 2 inches of rain across the region.

Following the arrival of the cold front, overnight the temperature dropped to 46 degrees and stayed in the 50s across the region during the day on Saturday.

Conditions are expected to remain cool during the week with a warmup expected next weekend.

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