PLYMOUTH, Maine — Fire crews from area towns spent most of Friday fighting a stubborn fire that destroyed almost everything owned by a Lower Detroit Road man.
A Detroit firefighter, Damion Walston, was hospitalized briefly at Sebasticook Valley Hospital in Pittsfield, according to Detroit Fire Chief Donald Chute. Chute said Walston, who had just finished working a long overnight shift, probably was overcome with exhaustion.
“I don’t think it’s anything serious,” Chute said. A hospital spokeswoman declined to provide details.
Owner Steve Bennett, 53, left for work about 5:30 a.m. Friday. At 6:44 a.m., dispatchers received word that the home was on fire. When the first fire crews arrived, their main concern was whether Bennett was home. A pickup truck was parked in the driveway.
“We were scared he was still inside,” said Plymouth Assistant Fire Chief Arrin Farrar. “I was more at ease when we found a padlock on the outside of the front door.”
Bennett, who is also known as “John,” was found more than an hour later working at his job for Pride Manufacturing in Burnham. He said the home was built by his family in the 1970s and that he has lived there since 1993. The home was not insured, he said. At least two cats were missing.
Farrar said several factors made fighting the fire difficult. Bitter cold temperatures threatened to freeze up air packs worn by firefighters and pumps inside the firetrucks — causing the need to send two trucks back to their stations to reheat. A significant portion of the home was full of firewood, according to Farrar, which kept the fire going even after hours of being doused. Also challenging was the home’s log construction, which Farrar said is notoriously difficult to deal with when burning.
About 12:30 p.m., an excavator arrived from Hopkins Construction in Plymouth to pull the still-burning house apart and level the woodpiles so firefighters could extinguish the flames. Departments from Dixmont, Etna, Detroit, Pittsfield and Carmel responded. They finally cleared the scene about 3:30 p.m.
“It’s been a real challenge,” said Farrar, who credited Penobscot County dispatchers for coordinating the efforts of so many departments, including the trucking of water to the site.
An aid vehicle from the American Red Cross was on the scene serving hot drinks and providing a place for rescue workers to warm up. The Red Cross was searching for ways to assist Bennett.
Bangor Daily News photographer Gabor Degre contributed to this report.