June 19, 2018
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Vinyl siding saves home, but not Harley, from fire

Christopher Cousins | BDN
Christopher Cousins | BDN
David Brann (far right) and his son Michael Brann survey the ruins of a two-story barn that burned Tuesday, March 1, 2011, at the family homestead at 5 Basford Road in Detroit.
By Christopher Cousins, BDN Staff

DETROIT, Maine — A barn and all its contents were destroyed Tuesday in a blaze that firefighters said could have been much worse if it weren’t for vinyl siding that deflected heat from a home about 30 feet away.

Detroit Fire Chief Donald Chute said the barn at 5 Basford Road was engulfed in flames by the time he arrived with the first crew at around 7 p.m. Tuesday, but his foremost concern was the nearby home, which was blistered and glowing from the intense heat.

“The first thing we did was put water on the house before we worried about the barn,” said Chute. “They’re lucky they’ve still got a house.”

Lee Brann, whose parents, Lucille and David Brann, have lived in the home for decades, said he was playing billiards when he heard his father yell that the barn was on fire. Lee Brann said he and his father ran into the barn in an attempt to save David Brann’s beloved 2001 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy motorcycle.

“We tried to push it out but we couldn’t,” said Lee Brann. “There was too much smoke, too much heat. We moved it some, but it did no good, obviously.” Just feet from the skeletal remains of the front of the barn sat the Harley, burned and contorted far beyond repair.

Also destroyed in the barn were numerous tools, furniture and family items that had collected over the course of more than 20 years.

“There are a whole bunch of memories in there, but they’re all gone now,” said Brann. “It’s terrible.”

A chicken, three rabbits and four cats were assumed to have perished in the blaze as well, though David Brann said he saw one of the cats dart from the building. Brann said the property was insured, as was the motorcycle.

Chute said a quick and coordinated response from several fire departments ensured that there were enough water and personnel on scene. Crews from Detroit, Pittsfield, Newport, Burnham, Troy and Hartland responded to the call, along with an ambulance from Sebasticook Valley Hospital as a precaution. No one was injured in the blaze.

Chute said that based on interviews with the family, he suspects the fire started on the second floor, perhaps because of an electrical malfunction. There was nothing suspicious about the circumstances, he said, adding that he expected firefighters to be at the scene for most of Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled the last name of the the Detroit fire chief. It is Chute, not Shute.

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