June 19, 2018
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Frigid temperatures hamper fight against Blue Hill house fire

By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff

BLUE HILL, Maine — An unoccupied home on Route 15 was destroyed early Friday after fire broke out in the basement and spread throughout the home, according to the local fire official.

Blue Hill Fire Chief Dennis Robertson said Friday that Katie Wieberg, the owner of the home, was temporarily staying somewhere else but had been in the home around 9 p.m. Thursday to crank up a wood stove in the basement. The stove was being used to make sure the pipes did not freeze, he said.

Around 10:45 p.m. Thursday, someone noticed the fire and reported it, Robertson said. By the time firefighters got to the scene and went inside, the fire had spread through the walls and floors and made it unsafe to stay in the building, he said. The focus point of the blaze appeared to be centered in the floor directly above the stove, he said.

“That it the presumed cause,” he said.

Firefighters retreated outside the building and took a defensive stance, making sure the fire did not spread to two nearby outbuildings, according to the chief. While firefighters tried to douse the flames, he said, outside temperatures went from about 10 degrees Fahrenheit to about 5 degrees, complicating matters.

Some pumpers froze up, he said, but by 7 a.m. they had the fire knocked down enough that they used a backhoe to demolish the standing structure. The home was insured, he said.

The blaze flared up again temporarily Friday afternoon, he added.

No one was injured in the blaze, the chief said. Six surrounding towns sent firefighters to the scene and two more had firefighters stand by in case they were needed there or somewhere else, he said. Peninsula Ambulance, Maine Department of transportation and the State Fire Marshal’s Office also assisted at the scene.

Robertson said that he cannot be sure if the house had working smoke detectors in it, but that it did 18 months ago when firefighters responded to the same property after the house was struck by lightning.

Follow BDN reporter Bill Trotter on Twitter at @billtrotter.

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