BURLINGTON, Maine — A smoke detector saved a New Hampshire man from a fire that gutted his one-story wood cabin despite the efforts of three volunteer fire departments, firefighters said Tuesday.
The homeowner, whom firefighters declined to identify, was asleep in the cabin at 1316 Long Ridge Road about 10 p.m. Friday when the piercing sound of the alarm woke him, Deputy Fire Chief Frank Hammond Jr. said.
When the man looked down the hallway, he saw an orange glow and black smoke, Hammond said in a statement released Tuesday.
“We simply cannot emphasize enough that working smoke detectors save lives, and [the Long Ridge Road fire] is another testament to that fact,” Fire Chief John Smith said.
No one was injured, said Hammond, who believes the homeowner sought shelter with area relatives.
The incident was the first major fire handled by the Burlington and Lowell fire departments. Both went active in July after the Dec. 30 demise of the Triangle Fire Department — which stopped covering both towns due to a lack of volunteers — and they handled Friday’s incident very well, Lowell Fire Chief Rick Smart said.
“Actually, it exceeded my expectations,” Smart said Tuesday. “The crews are working on a basic fire school right now, and it has helped. You could see it in the way they worked together. It is bringing them together, and they are getting the basic skills down.
“They all knew what their assignments were and they went right to work. They performed very well,” Smart added.
As many as 30 firefighters, using four engines and two tankers from three towns, including Passadumkeag, fought the blaze, Smart said. All, he said, proved the value of basic firefighter schooling, which they have received together since October, by working the fire “as one big team.”
Possibly caused by an electrical malfunction, the fire seemed to start in the right side of the 20-by-40-foot cabin and swept up and leftward. Photographs taken by firefighters of the aftermath show the right portion of roof caved in or burned away.
When Hammond arrived shortly after dispatchers at Penobscot Regional Communications Center of Bangor sounded the alarm at 10:14 p.m., he saw heavy flames coming from the right side and out the front door.
Dispatchers had already radioed to firefighters that the man had escaped the fire and no one else was inside the house and alerted Lowell and Passadumkeag firefighters to the blaze, Hammond said. A Penobscot Valley Hospital ambulance was also sent to the scene per a mutual aid agreement enacted in October.
Single engines from Burlington and Lowell attacked the fire while another Lowell truck set a tanker fill point at a fire pond near the former town office. Passadumkeag’s engine crew also helped fight the fire, while Burlington and Passadumkeag tankers shuttled in water, Hammond said.
Smith complimented a Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. crew for arriving quickly to ensure that the building’s electricity was shut off and the ambulance crew for helping firefighters stay safe.