Historic farm in Harrison destroyed by lightning strike

By Leslie H. Dixon, Sun Journal
Posted Aug. 12, 2012, at 5:52 a.m.

HARRISON, Maine — An elderly couple who lost their 1806 farmhouse to fire from lightning early Friday morning returned there in the afternoon to salvage items from the property on Town Farm Road.

There wasn’t much to pick up.

“We were lucky to get out alive,” Robert Boole said as he slowly walked toward the front door of the house.

Boole and his wife, Jan, were asleep in an upstairs bedroom at about 2:20 a.m. when they awoke to the smell of smoke, looked out the window and saw the barn and ell in flames.

“We just ran out and called 911,” Boole said as he sat in the front seat of his daughter’s car.

The couple had lived in the house, which sits high on a hill overlooking the Sebago Lake region, since 2003. The property was known to many as the old Potter Farm but was historically known as the 1806 Kneeland Farm.

The fire destroyed the barn and farm equipment inside, a garage and vehicles there, and the ell. It damaged the main part of the house so much that the owners consider it a complete loss. It will be torn down, Robert Boole said.

Caretaker Tim Labounty of Harrison, who helped remove the few remaining items in the house, said the Booles told him that they ran down the central staircase and at least one of them had to turn at the front door because of the heat and run through a living room and into the basement to escape.

“They got out with just the clothes on their back,” Labounty said.

He said they were able to retrieve some items in the kitchen, such as Jan Boole’s mother’s china set, kitchen wares and a few paintings in the living room.

“It’s all gone,” he said.

When firefighters arrived on the scene, Town Manager Bud Finch said the large barn had collapsed and ell was engulfed in flames.

Finch said he believed the barn was struck by lightning during a severe storm that rolled through the area sometime between midnight and 12:30 a.m. The fire was not noticed until after 2 a.m.

“It was almost two miles from town and people could see the sky lit up,” he said of the fire.

The couple is staying with one of their daughters in the Sebago Lake region until they determine their future plans. One daughter, Linda, was with them at the scene Friday afternoon.

Crews were called from Bridgton, Naples, Casco, Raymond, Denmark, Waterford, Stoneham, Greenwood, Otisfield, Norway, Oxford, Paris and West Paris. PACE ambulance also responded.

© 2012 the Sun Journal (Lewiston, Maine)

Distributed by MCT Information Services

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/08/12/news/lewiston-auburn/historic-farm-in-harrison-destroyed-by-lightning-strike/ printed on August 31, 2014