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Wrecks pile up along icy roads
ice 2
This pickup truck overturned Wednesday night on Castleberry Road, just south of Hutchinson Road, after the driver came around a corner and hit a slick spot. - photo by Jim Dean

 

It was not a silent night for Smokie Ingram.

Ingram, who owns Ingram's Renegade Towing & Recovery, said he was busier "than a one-armed paper hanger" between 6 and 10 p.m. Wednesday.

He wasn't alone. Forsyth County public safety personnel scrambled to keep up with the icy weather, which arrived in time for the evening rush hour and stuck around till midmorning Thursday.

Karleen Chalker, spokeswoman for the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office, said between 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and 8 a.m. Thursday, the 911 Center received 350 traffic accident-related calls.

Forsyth County Fire Capt. Jason Shivers said the department responded to 70 calls from 5 p.m. Wednesday to 9 a.m. Thursday.

It was so busy, he said, that at times ambulances weren't available.

"On three separate occasions we had to improvise, and transport patients with non life-threatening injuries to Northside Hospital-Forsyth in fire vehicles, which is very unusual," Shivers said.

Ingram said the weather started "warming up a little" after 10 p.m. Wednesday.

"[But ] you still had bad areas and ones the sand trucks hadn't gotten to," he said, adding that his business handled about 15 tows during the night.

A repeat of such conditions is unlikely tonight, though the National Weather Service was calling for a slight chance of snow.

According to its forecast, high temperatures will near 50 degrees throughout the weekend with lows in the upper 20s. There is a slight chance of rain Saturday before sunshine returns Sunday.

Of the 350 sheriff's office calls overnight Wednesday, Chalker said deputies responded to 55 accidents with no injuries and 19 where someone had been reported hurt.

There were also 44 other weather-related calls and 145 complaints of road obstructions or ice.

"We didn't have any fallen trees, which is kind of odd," Chalker said. "We did have one call for [utility] lines being down and no serious injuries as far as the automobile accidents were concerned."

She said deputies who worked the day shift stayed on duty a couple more hours until things settled down.

Shivers said the fire department's 70 calls included 40 that were for traffic accidents, two of which involved people trapped in vehicles.

The department also handled 22 medical calls, three fire alarms, one vehicle fire and various other incidents.

Shivers said firefighters assisted their counterparts in Dawson County at a house fire that claimed the life of an 84-year-old woman early Thursday.

Heavy smoke and flames were showing when firefighters arrived. Dawson authorities said the woman, who had been trapped inside a bedroom, was taken to Northside Hospital-Forsyth, where she was pronounced dead.

The house was a total loss. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

In a separate incident late Wednesday afternoon, a pedestrian was struck and killed on Ga. 400 in Dawson County, just north of Hwy. 136. Dawson authorities have not released the person's name.

Shivers said Forsyth Fire Chief Danny Bowman called in a second batallion chief about 8 p.m. Wednesday and staffed the department's spare four-wheel-drive vehicles because of call volumes.

Some employees were permitted to log extra hours to help out during the night.

With a couple weeks to go, Shivers said the department has received more than 11,000 calls for service in 2010. The total for 2009 was 10,934.

FCN regional staff contributed to this report.