Police: "Massive ice jam" breaks apart in Athol forcing an evacu - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Police: "Massive ice jam" breaks apart in Athol forcing an evacuation

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A massive ice jam that broke along the Millers River in Athol  caused widespread flooding and prompted evacuations Saturday morning. 

Members of the Athol Fire Department were keeping an eye on the Millers River early this morning when things quickly took a turn for the worst.

"When I was out here at 5:30, I had no concerns whatsoever. 7 o’clock I started getting calls. It happened that fast," said Athol Fire Chief John Duguay. 
Ten residents who live in the Morton Meadows section were forced to evacuate and are currently taking shelter at the Town Hall.

The Salvation Army is working with them to establish overnight shelters in case the river levels do not subside. 

The Exchange Street Bridge remains shut down and is under close watch by the Mass DOT since it suffered damage from the ice jams. 

[PHOTOS: Ice jams cause flooding across W. Mass]

 "The ice dam impacted the bridge, tore off portions of a water main that has since been shutdown. It may have caused other damage and the road has been closed for safety," said Athol Town Manager Shaun Suhoski.  

In a press release sent to Western Mass News, town officials explained the ice caused "hangars" that secure a 10-inch water main to the underside of the bridge to be swept downstream. 

The water main was shut down, but no customers were impacted. 

Emergency Management has requested aid from Massachusetts State Police. 

Police in Orange were also monitoring the ice jam as it was making way towards their community. 

Saturday night, Orange Fire Officials reported that they experienced "minor localized flooding" not related to the river, but are still keeping a close watch on ice jams.

Athol wasn't the only town impacted by ice jams on Saturday.

Over in Ware, the bridge on Upper Church Street was closed after ice jams caused the Ware River to overflow.

[READ MORE: Bridge in Ware closed due to flooding caused by ice jams]

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