Eintime Conversion for education and research 10-20-2007 @ 07:24:18
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`Flood and fires both threaten parts of New England

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Portions of northern New England faced a renewed threat of spring flooding Tuesday, even as the fire danger remained high.

Record-high temperatures were expected to speed up the snowmelt across the region, causing water levels to rise in Maine's Kennebec River and elsewhere.

The National Weather Service posted a flood warning along the Kennebec at Skowhegan, where the river flow was expected to increase to nearly 45,000 cubic feet per second — or 10,000 cubic feet per second above flood stage.

Minor flooding was anticipated before the river drops below flood stage.

Forecasters also posted a flood advisory for the St. John River at Dickey, because of ice movement, and issued an alert about ice movement on the Allagash.

Other areas cited by the weather service included the Mattawamkeag River at Mattawamkeag and the Sebasticook River in Pittsfield.

In Vermont, the National Weather Service issued a flood warning for the area around Lake Champlain. Spring runoff pushed the lake level to about the 100-foot flood stage, causing some minor flooding in low lying areas, said meteorologist Maureen Breitbach.

The current forecast calls for the lake to peak at 100.7 feet on Wednesday. Serious flooding doesn't occur until the lake reaches 101 feet, Breitbach said.

There has also been some minor flooding along streams and rivers in the state, although that is also expected to ease because the snow is melting.

The spike in temperatures set records Monday across Maine. Bangor recorded a high of 83 degrees while Portland hit 81, Millinocket 80 and Houlton 79.

Warnings of fire danger continued into Tuesday amid warm, dry weather, brisk winds and low humidity.

In southern and central New Hampshire, where a red flag alert prohibited outdoor burning, tinderbox conditions sparked fires in communities that were largely underwater just one week ago.

"You wouldn't expect it to go from floods to fires in a matter of days," said Lt. Mike Clough of the Somersworth Fire Department.

Manchester firefighters were busy extinguishing flames caused by sparks from a passing train along the city's train tracks. The largest fire ignited storage material at a Verizon building.

On Monday, Maine's 10th wildfire in three days burned nearly 14 acres near Schoodic Lake in Columbia after Cherryfield Foods reported that a blueberry burn got out of control. No buildings were threatened and no injuries were reported.

A red flag warning that had been issued for parts of Vermont on Monday was lifted after a cold front came through overnight.

But on Tuesday, the Weather Service was urging people in Vermont's two southernmost counties to be aware of the threat of fire.

Maine Gov. John Baldacci lifted the state of emergency he imposed more than a week ago in response to the Patriot's Day nor'easter that caused at least $30 million in damage to public property and left some 128,000 homes and businesses in the dark.

The purpose of the declaration was to speed repairs to downed power lines by allowing crews from other areas to travel to Maine to help out.

The last storm-related power outages were repaired Saturday.

(Original Len: 3519 Condensed Len: 3691)

10-20-2007 @ 07:24:18