TROY, Maine — Just after midnight Thursday, Shawn Quimby of the Troy Volunteer Fire Department woke up to respond to a page that there was a fire outside the Troy General Store.
He drove his 2006 Toyota pickup truck to the fire station, then donned his firefighting gear and went in the firetruck to the scene, which turned out to be a porta-potty that apparently had been set on fire. When the fire crew returned less than an hour later from dousing the smelly fire, Quimby was upset to see that his truck was gone — along with personal items including his tools and his wallet that were inside the unlocked truck.
Fire Chief Larry Raymond said late Thursday afternoon that there is no doubt in his mind that the porta-potty arson and the truck theft are connected.
“The porta-potty was a total loss, and they just don’t start up on their own,” he said of the fire. “Maybe somebody was mad there wasn’t enough toilet paper. I don’t know.”
He said that it was terrible that someone seemed to have lured the firefighters to the scene by lighting toilet paper on fire in order to steal a truck. The store is about three miles from the fire station on the same road.
Another volunteer with the Fire Department said Thursday afternoon that it’s common practice for firefighters to leave their keys in their vehicles.
“It’s unbelievable, it really is. You try to do something for the community,” Quimby said later that morning. “I was really shocked.”
Quimby, who said he had left his keys inside the vehicle, notified police. His wife, Ashley Quimby, shared a photograph of the missing truck on Facebook asking people to help find it. By noon, the photo had been shared more than 2,500 times.
“Someone knows who has our truck,” she wrote. “Bring out truck home!”
The family’s plea was answered later that morning when a state trooper found the truck, the motor still running, in the neighboring town of Dixmont. The tools, wallet, credit cards and other items left inside hadn’t been taken or damaged.
The trooper investigating the theft was unavailable for comment Thursday.
“I’m very, very pleased,” said Shawn Quimby, who added that he had spent a long night first fighting the fire and then worrying.
Despite his lack of sleep, he said at noon that he was about to get in his recovered truck to drive across the state to help take care of the animals at his sister’s deer farm in Danforth.
“I couldn’t afford another one,” he said of the vehicle, adding that the events of the night, including the burning porta-potty and the stranger’s apparent joyride in his pickup truck, seemed odd.
“It makes you on edge a little bit,” he said.
Chief Raymond referred to the events as “just another bored night in Troy. Cabin fever has done more than just set in, I think. It’s gone to the outer limits.
“When we catch up to the person who’s ultimately responsible for taking Shawn’s truck,” he said, “we’ll pursue the matter of the porta-potty.”