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Down East Tremors leave Mainers puzzled

SKOWHEGAN, Maine -- People in Somerset County are seeking answers after feeling earthquake-like tremors this week.

The Somerset County Communications Center got calls Thursday morning from at least a dozen residents who reported tremors in a 15-mile radius in Anson, Madison, Skowhegan, and Norridgewock. But state officials said there weren't any earthquakes that were documented by the New England Seismic Network, which tracks earthquake activity.

Robert Higgins, director of Somerset County Emergency Management, said he wants a second look. People in Solon the previous week reported hearing an unexplained loud explosion that shook homes, he said. ''I'd like them to relook at what they may have," Higgins said. ''This is the second occurrence in less than a week of such magnitude."

Norridgewock Town Manager John Doucette said Thursday's event sounded and felt like a dumpster had fallen off a truck or a truck had hit the town office building, but that nothing could be found when employees went outside to see what happened.

More than a mile away, Jeffrey McGown said he felt the shaking in his office. But he, too, couldn't find the cause. ''It felt like somebody with a delivery type of vehicle had backed into our building," McGown said.

Six miles away in Anson, the boom and shaking were so strong that off-duty dispatcher William Crawford called the county's dispatch center. He thought maybe his chimney collapsed or his furnace exploded, but he couldn't determine the cause, either.

State geologist Bob Marvinney of the Maine Geological Survey said if an earthquake occurred, it wasn't recorded by any of the instruments in Maine or elsewhere in New England.

Marvinney said he contacted the New England Seismic Network in Massachusetts, which hadn't picked up on any seismic activity in the area.

''I'm surprised we didn't pick up anything," he said. ''There are other kinds of explanations, like quarry work and roadwork."

Higgins said he checked with Guilford Industries to see if the company had been doing any quarry work, but was told there hadn't been any blasting since last fall. ''It's just unexplainable, I guess," he said.

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