June 19, 2018
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Neighbor keeps fire at bay tossing snow

By Walter Griffin

FRANKFORT, Maine — Quick thinking by a neighbor and a rapid response by the Fire Department saved a Loggin Road home from being destroyed by fire Thursday evening.

No one was home when the fire started as owner Gary Hussey and his partner, Linda Doody, were at a Bangor hospital to attend the birth of her granddaughter Lollah Cowing.

Hussey, who arrived from Eastern Maine Medical Center after the fire was out, said the baby was doing fine.

The fire broke out in a wall behind the home’s wood-burning stove at approximately 5 p.m. but was kept at bay by a neighbor who tossed snow onto the flames until firefighters arrived. Frankfort Fire Chief Earl Anderson said the fire was confined to the area around the stove and extinguished in less than an hour.

Joy Frost, Hussey’s daughter, said neighbors Dalton and Laurie Wilbur noticed smoke and flames coming from the home and reacted quickly. While Laurie Wilbur called 911 to report the fire, her husband broke into the garage and once inside began throwing snow onto the flames, Frost said. She said the fire breached the wall between the home’s interior and the chimney on the exterior wall.

“He saved the house,” Frost said. “The only one home was the cat, and the cat survived.”

The 28 Loggin Road home is a few hundred feet from the Maine and Montreal Railroad trestle in Frankfort village, a quarter-mile from the town’s firehouse. Frost, who grew up in the house, said her family had lived in the neighborhood for generations and that her father had built the home across the road from his parents’ residence. Hussey served many years as Frankfort fire chief.

Frost said she was grateful for the quick response of the town and neighboring fire departments. “They did a great job,” she said. “There’s some damage, but at least you still have your treasured possessions, which you can never replace.”

Chief Anderson said fire units from Prospect, Winterport, West Frankfort and Searsport responded to the call for mutual aid.

Homeowner Hussey said there was a concrete pad beneath the stove and fireproof panels behind it. As a former fire chief, Hussey said he had been worried this winter about all those people who had installed wood- or pellet-burning stoves this year and might not have had experience with burning wood.

“I’ve been burning wood for more than 30 years and thought I had a safe stove,” Hussey said. “It started where the stovepipe goes through the wall.”

Hussey said his home is insured and that he intended to move back in that night once the smoke was removed from the house by the Fire Department’s large fans.

“The furnace still works, so all I have to do is put a piece of plastic over the hole and we’re golden,” he said.

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