DEXTER, Me. — The roof of a department store collapsed Tuesday under the weight of more than a foot of snow, injuring at least three people who were inside, authorities said.
Six people were reported inside R. H. Reny's department store on Main Street in Dexter, about 15 miles northwest of Bangor, when the building's flat roof collapsed.
Rescue workers continued to search for more possible victims in the wreckage, but most customers had been ushered from the store when the roof began creaking shortly before the collapse.
"I heard this crash, it sounded like a roll of thunder," said Jerry Townsend, a witness.
The manager of a nearby hardware store said firefighters were in the three-story, brick building to check on reports of a leaking roof when it collapsed.
Robert McReavy, executive director of Mayo Regional Hospital in nearby Dover-Foxcroft, said two women and a man were pulled from the building and treated at a local hospital.
A fierce winter storm had dumped 17 inches of snow in the Dexter area and up to 28 inches on parts of northern New England by Tuesday morning. The region's biggest storm of the winter also closed schools and businesses and ended a snow drought for many ski areas.
Snow accumulations in most of the region ranged from 1 to 2 feet. Andover, Vt., received 28 inches, while 15 to 20 inches of snow was reported along the eastern slopes of New Hampshire's White Mountains, according to the National Weather Service. Mt. Holly, Vt., got 24 inches; Montpelier, Vt., 20 inches; Nashua, N.H., 16 inches, and Portland, Me., 11 inches.
Eastern New York state also got heavy snow from the storm, with 17 inches at Utica, Piseco Lake and Bolton Landing and 11 inches at Albany, weather officials said.
Many youngsters got an unscheduled holiday Tuesday when schools canceled classes because of travel conditions.
A number of businesses also called off work for the day. The manufacturing facilities and distribution center at L. L. Bean Inc., the supplier of clothing and gear for campers and would-be woodsmen in Freeport, Me., were closed.
In New Hampshire, the storm forced a reshuffling of the legislative calendar. Tuesday's state Senate hearings were put off until Thursday, but the full Senate met as planned in the afternoon. The House postponed its Tuesday session until today.
But the storm also ended a January snow drought for many ski areas, some of which had been forced to rely on man-made snow to keep their slopes white.
"January wasn't a good month for snow," said Nancy Marshall, spokeswoman at Sugarloaf USA in Carrabassett Valley, Me.