October 20, 2019
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Brush fires rage from one end of Maine to the other. But the woodchuck got away.

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal | AP
Daryn Slover/Sun Journal | AP
Firefighters across the state battled fires Monday. Here, Monmouth firefighters pour water on a mobile home fire on Mousse Way in Leeds, Maine. The fire spread to the woods nearby and firefighters from Leeds stopped it from spreading further into the woods as the home had already collapsed. The owner was not home when the fire started, said Leeds Assistant Fire Chief John Murphy. No one was injured.

A string of wildfires starting on Saturday and culminating with 13 reported fires before 4 p.m. Monday have area fire chiefs encouraging residents to be cautions with outdoor burns.

A fire started by a farm employee attempting to burn a woodchuck out of a hole in the ground at Cooper Farms grew to nearly two acres Saturday, Monmouth Fire Chief Dan Roy said Monday.

“Did you ever see the movie ‘Caddyshack’?” Roy asked.

The department called in mutual aid from Leeds and Wales, drawing about 30 firefighters in total before the blaze was extinguished.

But, Roy said, “The woodchuck apparently got away.”

On Sunday, a brush fire burned off Route 202 in Greene, and a structure fire ignited in Leeds.

By 3 p.m. Monday, Maine forest rangers reported that they also had responded to wildfires in Sanford, Orland, Dexter, Frankfort, Fairfield, Skowhegan, Sedgwick, Albion, Lamoine, Marshville, Mariaville and Ellsworth.

The fire in Dexter was contained at three acres, according to the Maine Forest Ranger Twitter feed. The cause of the fire is under investigation, but is believed to be improper disposal of lighted materials.

Later Monday afternoon, crews were at the scene of two fires in Sanford. While Sanford firefighters tackled a blaze on Dorsey Street, mutual aid was requested to attack a brush fire on Payeur Circle in Sanford, WGME reported.

The fire index listed southern and coastal Maine as having moderate fire risks on Monday, with northern Maine a low risk.

But Roy cautioned that direct sun on dry brush can be flammable, and brush fires can often get out of control.

Regardless of the index, he said, “you still need to be very cautious.”

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