June 24, 2019
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Arson suspected in fire at Ellsworth bird sanctuary

Bill Trotter | BDN
Bill Trotter | BDN
Firefighters respond Sunday evening to a blaze at Birdsacre on High Street in Ellsworth. No one was hurt in the incident, which was reported a little after 6 p.m.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — State investigators said Tuesday that a Sunday night fire that significantly damaged a homestead at a local wildlife sanctuary appears to have been intentionally set.

Sgt. Tim York of the State Fire Marshal’s Office declined Tuesday to release details about what investigators found when they examined the fire scene Monday at Stanwood Wildlife Sanctuary, also known as Birdsacre.

“It appears to be an intentional human element fire,” York said. “The investigation is ongoing with Ellsworth Police Department and Ellsworth Fire Department.”

The house, originally built in the mid-1800s, was restored in the 1950s and has been maintained as a museum since 1960, according to the sanctuary website. The sanctuary property, which is home to birds such as owls and hawks that have been injured and are unable to return to the wild, consists of 200 acres with trails, bird enclosures and a nature center.

No animals were injured in the fire, which was reported around 6:15 p.m. Sunday. According to local fire officials, the fire seems to have started in the back part of the building, which is on Route 3, and to have caused heat and smoke damage to the front. The building was closed and unheated for the winter.

Personal items that used to belong to sanctuary founder Cordelia J. Stanwood are believed to have suffered extensive damage but her written field notes have been preserved in digital form and the glass plate negatives of her photos are in storage off site, according to a sanctuary official.


Correction: The original version of this story indicated that no people were hurt as a result of the fire. It should have indicated that an Ellsworth firefighter was significantly injured when he fell through a floor while fighting the blaze.

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