17 wrecks, fire blamed on winter storm

City officials are urging residents to use caution in the days following a winter storm that blanketed Pitt County with almost a half a foot of snow.

According to the National Weather Service, about 5 inches of snow fell in Greenville, and some parts of Pitt County got up to 6 inches.

“This type of snowstorm is certainly unusual in eastern North Carolina,” Greenville Mayor P.J. Connelly said during a news conference Thursday afternoon. “Crews in the city did a great job in preparing for this … but we are not out of the woods yet.”

Crews with Greenville’s Public Works Department and the North Carolina Department of Transportation have been out since 10 p.m. Wednesday with plows, dump trucks, brine trucks and motor graders to clear snow and ice off roads.

“We’re out there on all our roads trying to open primary and secondary roads,” Kevin Mulligan, director of Public Works, said Thursday. “We are trying to get to some of the smaller roads on Friday.”

More than 200 tons of salt will be used this weekend, Mulligan said.

Mulligan added that many roads and bridges were in danger of refreezing Thursday night and Friday morning as temperatures are expected to dip as low as 15 degrees. Additionally, people should stay off of the roads as much as possible.

“The roads are passable, but they still can be dangerous,” Mulligan said. “Anyone that has to get out should use extreme caution.”

Police Chief Mark Holtzman said that about 17 accidents were reported in Greenville Wednesday night and Thursday and also advised that people stay off the roads if possible.

“Luckily none of these accidents resulted in any serious injuries,” Holtzman said. “The best thing for people to do is stay off the roads and let the crews treat the roads.”

Holtzman said additional officers have been depolyed throughout the city while the roads remain dangerous.

Fire-Rescue Chief Eric Griffin urged people to use caution when using space heaters during the cold snap.

“We had a fire earlier this week that was caused by a space heater,” Griffin said. “If you are using them, make sure they are at least 3 feet away from anything combustable and never leave them unattended.”

Greenville Utlities CEO Tony Cannon said that no major power outages had been reported since Wednesday night.

“We have been fortunate so far,” Cannon said. “Most of the calls we are getting are isolated outages.”

However, Cannon said that GUC crews have had to deal with 7 water main breaks in the past 48 hours.

“That is something that happens during really cold weather like what we are dealing with right now,” Cannon said.

Connelly said that temperatures will remain below freezing until Sunday and highs are expected to be in the 20s on Friday and SaturdayMonday will bring highs in the 50s.

Until then Connelly said that people should “Be careful.”

“Just be safe,” he said. “Don’t do anything that would put you or anyone else in danger.”

City office and recreation facilities will open at 10 a.m. on Friday, Connelly said. GREAT bus services will begin operations at 10:30 a.m. Friday sanitation crews in the city will operate on normal schedule.

17 wrecks, fire blamed on winter storm
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