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Tens of thousands still lack power

By James Vaznis, Globe staff and Matt Negrin, Globe correspondent
December 14, 2008
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Three days after a massive ice storm struck New England, more than 300,000 homes and businesses in Massachusetts and New Hampshire remained without power today, while the outage for many customers could last for days, officials said.

Top state leaders, including New Hampshire Governor John Lynch, pleaded with residents throughout the day to take refuge in emergency shelters, hotels, or homes of family and friends, after temporary make-shift heating devices sparked fires in several homes in both states or overwhelmed households with carbon monoxide.

In Danville, N.H., 1 49-year-old man died of carbon monoxide poisoning because of a clogged exhaust pipe in a gas powered generator heating his recreational vehicle. Several other residents in New Hampshire and Massachusetts were taken to local hospitals to be treated for carbon monoxide poisoning.

The lack of electricity along with fallen trees and downed power lines -- often covered in ice and blocking many roadways -- prompted local officials in dozens of communities in both states to cancel school today.

"There is no projection when everything that will be back in place," said Peter Judge, spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. "We are talking days more than hours at this point. ... Our biggest problem is the huge amount of debris out there. Crews are still clearing roads with chain saws. The secondary roads in many communities are not passable enough to get bucket trucks up."

President Bush on Saturday declared a state of emergency in at least nine Massachusetts counties, stretching from Suffolk to Berkshires, and for much of New Hampshire. About half of the Granite State was in the dark at the height of the outage on Friday, and roughly half of those were still without power yesterday.

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