June 24, 2018
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Officials investigating Washington County house and power line fires

By Kevin Miller, BDN Staff

MARSHFIELD, Maine — Firefighters and utility crews in the Machias area were busy Sunday morning as they battled a blaze that destroyed a Marshfield house as well as two separate power line fires that left some residents in the dark for much of the day.

Fire officials apparently were investigating the incidents Sunday to determine whether they were connected.

The frenzy of activity began at roughly 2:30 a.m. when Marshfield firefighters were dispatched to downed power lines and a utility pole that was on fire on Marshfield Flats Road. But not long after firefighters secured the scene, a nearby resident came running out to say his house was on fire, Marshfield Fire Chief Daniel Bowker said.

The unnamed man was able to escape the house with his wife and several pets. But firefighters ultimately were unable to save the family’s home, Bowker said. About 35 members from Marshfield, Machias, East Machias, Machiasport and Jonesboro fire departments were at the scene.

The morning’s activity did not end there, however. Some firefighting crews later were called away when another utility pole was reported on fire in Machiasport.

“It was definitely an eventful morning,” Bowker said.

More than a dozen customers were still without power in Machiasport just before 5 p.m. Sunday. Power was restored to affected streets in Marshfield by 9 a.m., roughly six hours after the initial call.

Bowker said an investigator from the state fire marshal’s office visited the scene on Sunday as did electricians with Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. who were checking each house on the street. A representative from the fire marshal’s office could not be reached for comment on Sunday evening.

Bob Potts, spokesman for Bangor Hydro, said the company is cooperating with the fire marshal’s investigation and is conducting its own review of the events. Potts attributed the pole fires to equipment malfunctions and said that, in both cases, the poles and equipment had to be replaced.

Potts also pointed out that in Marshfield, the power lines that came down on the road were still electrified at the time.

“So it is a reminder to customers that anytime you come across downed power lines, steer clear of it,” Potts said.

Bowker said he was grateful for the help of all of the fire crews on what turned out to be a busy day, noting that some firefighters were at the scene until after noon, nearly 10 hours after the initial call.

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