Cars trapped, hundreds without power after tractor-trailer crash topples 7 utility poles in Stoneham

Cars are trapped and hundreds of homes and businesses are without power after a tractor-trailer crash toppled seven utility poles along a busy street that runs through Stoneham near Interstate 93 on Wednesday morning.

Emergency crews responding to multiple 911 calls in the area of Montvale Avenue around 9:30 a.m. found a trail of downed utility poles and power lines draped across the roadway, according to Stoneham Police Chief James McIntyre and Acting Stoneham Fire Chief Dave Eastman.

“It pulled down one telephone pole, which pulled down the next one, pulled down the next one,” said Jack Finley, who was driving a UPS van just behind the truck. “I knew I was going to get hit by one of the poles. Luckily it was the back end of the truck, not the front.”

And luckily, that was the only vehicle hit by any of the telephone poles though several in transit became trapped under the falling wires.

“Most of the people got out of the vehicles,” said Acting Stoneham Fire Chief David Eastman. “There was still one lady inside her car. She waited for Eversource to show up to make sure the power was dead before extricating herself from the vehicle. She was unharmed.”

In fact, nobody was harmed, including the driver of the 18-wheeler, who managed to escape from his cab. Finley watched him exit. “Sparks are flying all over the place,” he said. “So that was concerning.”

The section of Montvale Avenue affected is an area populated by office parks and apartment buildings and as of Wednesday afternoon, Eversource said 165 customers were still without power and may not get it back tonight. However, spokesperson Chris MacKinnon said Eversource was bringing in seven large generators that will supply power to those in the dark once it’s safe to hook them up.

Mike and Carol Cataldo live nearby. The clock in their apartment froze at 9:29.

“We’re on the sixth floor,” said Mike. “We had to climb down six flights of stairs.

No electricity, no heat no elevator, no nothing. Even the emergency lights are finally gone.”

The Cataldos planned a temporary relocation to their daughter’s house.

Stephen D. was working at home when the power went out.

“I thought they would turn it back on again pretty soon,” he said. “And then it didn’t come back on. So I walked down there and there were telephone poles all over the street. And I thought we’re not going to have power for a while.”

Jorge Aguilar heard an explosion while having his breakfast.

“In the beginning, I was thinking it was my dryer because I put some clothes in,” he said.

“I see people down the street and I said, what happened down there?”

What happened down on Montvale Avenue is likely to have a lingering effect on the morning commute. Stoneham Police Chief James McIntyre said the town hopes to get one lane open by morning, but its likely utility work will continue. He’s asking commuters to avoid the area.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

Download the FREE Boston 25 News app for breaking news alerts.

Follow Boston 25 News on Facebook and Twitter. | Watch Boston 25 News NOW