ST. FRANCIS, Maine — A malfunction with the dispatching system Friday initially kept the St. Francis Fire Department from hearing and responding to a report of a fire that destroyed a detached garage full of snowmobiles, a motorcycle and other equipment.
When St. Francis firefighters did not respond to the call out within about two minutes, firefighters from Fort Kent, about 15 miles away, were paged and responded, according to Fort Kent Fire Chief Ed Endee. Both fire departments are sent out by the dispatcher from the Fort Kent Police Department.
The fire at 668 Main St. was reported just after 9 a.m. and Fort Kent firefighters arrived about 9:35 a.m., according to Endee.
“It is a mystery as to why none of the St. Francis firefighters heard the tone,” said Endee. He said he did not know what might have caused the malfunction and referred further questions about it to St. Francis Fire Chief Fernando Harvey, who could not be reached Friday afternoon.
Endee did say that Harvey later Friday morning had the dispatcher test the system again at the scene to assure that it was working properly, and it was.
When Fort Kent firefighters arrived, the garage was engulfed in flames.
Endee said that the garage, owned by Rodney Ouellette, contained several snow sleds, a motorcycle and other belongings. Some items were saved.
Endee said that a propane tank and an acetylene tank in the building posed dangers for firefighters. At one point, the acetylene tank exploded and hit the house next door, causing minor damage to the siding.