June 22, 2018
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Winds stir up leftover embers to ignite fire in Dixfield

By Terry Karkos, Sun Journal

DIXFIELD, Maine — Winds on Friday afternoon are believed to have reignited a permitted burn at 19 Holman Road off Route 2, said Dixfield fire Chief Scott Dennett.

Heat and flames from the fire also melted siding on the house at that address before firefighters from Dixfield, East Dixfield, Peru, Mexico and Rumford arrived to extinguish and root out the blaze.

After conferring with Maine Forest Service Ranger Brad Bucknell, Dennett said they believe the wind reignited a smoldering ember from a permitted burn on April 20 at the property. If the burned area wasn’t completely stirred up and dug out that day, embers could smolder for a while, he said.

“It’s kind of like if you take a briquette and put it down on the ground, you’re not going to get any smoke from it, but it’s still charcoal hot,” he said.

At about 1:50 p.m., Dixfield firefighters were initially told by a dispatcher in Paris to respond to a vehicle fire at 19 Holman Road that was close to a house.

Dixfield fire Lt. Jason Hyde said that from the perspective of a Route 2 driver who may have called 911, it could have looked like the pickup truck parked beside the house was on fire. But it was the brush in front of and behind it that was ablaze.

When Dixfield firefighters, some of whom were at a training exercise on Ridge Road in Peru, didn’t confirm the radio traffic, Peru fire Assistant Chief Dean Milligan asked the dispatcher to send Peru, Rumford and Mexico fire departments to get crews and tanker trucks rolling to the fire scene, Dennett said.

Dennett said he was at work in Rumford when the call came in and had the dispatcher call out East Dixfield firefighters since the fire was about halfway between Dixfield and East Dixfield.

“It was actively burning, at least on the backside” when Dixfield and East Dixfield firefighters first arrived, he said.

“The first unit on scene could see that it was obviously a woods fire, and did a survey to see if the fire was encroaching on the back of the house.”

Dennett said the fire extended into the wood line behind the Melcher house and was burning right up against the back of the house.

“There was no vehicle fire involved,” he said.

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