Officials investigate fire that destroyed 168 lobster traps

Posted May 19, 2010, at 9:10 p.m.

CUSHING, Maine — The State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating a fire that destroyed a stack of 168 lobster traps Tuesday night.

According to Sgt. Joel Davis, the traps were piled about 25 to 30 yards from owner Wyatt Weaver’s house at 25 Far Meadow Lane.

The Cushing Fire Department received the call around 9 p.m. Tuesday. Firefighters extinguished the blaze, which ate away at the PVC lining of the metal traps.

According to Deputy Mark Tibbetts of the Knox County Sheriff’s Department, which also went to the scene, the owner was not home during the fire. Two neighbors called 911, he said.

Although metal lobster traps can catch fire, it takes effort, Tibbetts said.

“It has to be ignited with gas — a propellant has to be put on it to start it,” Tibbetts said Wednesday.

He would not comment on any possible motive for someone setting the traps on fire.

Tibbetts said the fire was isolated to one stack of traps, and he estimated there were approximately 300 other traps in Weaver’s front yard that did not burn.

Weaver said Wednesday the damage to the traps totaled about $15,000.

“Burnt. Gone. Down the drain,” he said.

He said he was visiting family members with his 15-month-old daughter when he got a call saying his house was on fire. The person then called back and told him just the traps were on fire.

Weaver said he isn’t sure who could have done this to his traps.

“I’ve dealt with a couple people feuding, cutting [lobster gear] and stuff. In the past year I haven’t had any troubles with anybody,” Weaver said. “I need to replace the gear to keep supporting my family, and the community is trying to pull together for me already.”

Some of his Cushing neighbors are putting on a benefit dinner for him, Weaver said, adding it has been a rough year. He works in construction during the winter and the recession hit his work hard.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office would not say whether there was a suspect, as it is an open investigation.

The Fire Marshal’s Office asked that anyone with information call 624-7076.

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