BLUE HILL, Maine — Nearly 50 volunteer firefighters from four communities quelled a dramatic fire Sunday afternoon that consumed a three-story garage on Pleasant Street and sent flames and clouds of black smoke shooting high into the sky.
No firefighters were injured while fighting the fire, which threatened nearby structures including the owner’s home and the next-door parsonage of the First Baptist Church of Blue Hill. Heat from the fire melted the vinyl siding on the parsonage, according to the church’s pastors.
“It was a great save, as far as the other structures go,” Blue Hill Fire Chief Dennis Robertson said later Sunday afternoon. “Like all fires, we had some luck. There was no wind, and the boys got here quickly.”
But even though the firefighters were able to arrive soon after the 1 p.m. call came in, there was little anyone could do to save the garage. It belonged to Blaise Desibour, who also is a volunteer firefighter, and featured a large solar panel array on the roof. Robertson said that the fire started in the basement of the garage when Desibour and his wife were home next door. The fire department has notified the Maine State Fire Marshal, and the chief said he wants to wait before releasing the likely cause of the fire.
Neighbors were among the many bystanders who gathered to watch the billowing smoke and flames, which at times were higher than the nearby structure. Rob Bauer, who lives nearby, said that the Desibours managed to move the cars parked in the garage before escaping. He and others said they thought moving the cars and eliminating gasoline as a fuel for the fire may have helped to save the nearby buildings.
Bauer said that a problem for Blue Hill is the lack of municipal water. Firefighters had to extend hoses to a pond and pump the water uphill to the fire.
Steve and Sheila Heneise, co-pastors at the First Baptist Church, were home having lunch after Sunday services when they heard an explosion at the back of the building next door.
“The fire was so close and so hot,” Steve Heneise said.
His wife said that the couple worried about the fire spreading, especially after tall evergreen trees right next to their home started to smolder and spark.
“We grabbed our passports and our laptops and my purse,” she said.
The couple praised the firefighters for their quick response and hard work involved in saving the buildings, including their house.
“The surrounding towns are great about coming out very fast,” Steve Heneise said.
In addition to Blue Hill, the Sedgewick, Brooklin and Penobscot fire departments assisted in fighting the fire.