Maine Forest Service, six fire departments battle wood fire

Crews responded to a fire on Page Road in Glenburn Friday.
Photo courtesy of Michele Barker
Crews responded to a fire on Page Road in Glenburn Friday.
Posted July 23, 2011, at 2:24 p.m.
Last modified July 24, 2011, at 6:03 a.m.

GLENBURN, Maine — A large pile of wood caught fire Friday afternoon on Page Road and the smoke from the blaze caught the attention of a passing Maine Forest Service helicopter pilot.

“They actually landed two of their rangers who walked through the woods and found the fire on the Page Road,” Glenburn Assistant Fire Chief Eric Strout said Saturday morning. “As our first units got there, they were doing water drops” on the blaze.

The pilot called Penobscot Regional Communications Center at around 2:30 p.m. to report the fire.

As local firefighters got to the scene, the fast-moving blaze already had consumed almost an acre and “it had started consuming the back end of a pickup truck used by the homeowner to haul wood and had just started to consume the back end of a trailer,” Strout said. “It was more than what we were expecting.”

The water-hauling helicopter crew “were huge in helping us out,” he said.

Firefighters from Glenburn, Levant, Kenduskeag, Bradford, Hudson and Corinth helped fight the rural wood fire, which took about an hour to get under control, Strout said.

Saving the home “was our main focus,” he said, adding no one was at home at the time.

Firefighters were able to put out both the trailer and truck fires. One bedroom in the home was damaged, the siding melted off that end of the structure and there is smoke damage throughout, Strout said. The homeowner’s name was not available.

Because of Friday’s nearly 100-degree weather, Bradford firefighters set up a rehab station to provide a place for crews to cool off and rehydrate.

“Heat was a big concern,” said Strout, who is chief of the Glenburn ambulance service. “I had two guys that went into the trailer in full gear and they suffered a little bit of heat exhaustion.”

The firefighters were carrying 70 to 80 pounds of protective gear when they entered the burning home plus the weight of the air tanks, he said.

“It was pretty challenging,” Strout said, adding that because of the remote location, “it was tough to get water in and we had two types of fire to actually fight so it stretched the resources.”

Luckily, “We work really well together as a group,” the assistant fire chief said of the partnering fire departments.

After the blaze was knocked down, an excavator was brought in to pull apart the remnants of the wood pile to ensure there were no hidden embers. An initial investigation into the cause of the fire shows “nothing conclusive,” Strout said.

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