Rain and ice proved an added challenge for firefighters battling blazes that destroyed homes in Readfield and Monmouth.
The first of those fires, which broke out shortly before 9 p.m. Sunday, leveled a home off Plains Road in Readfield. The second fire broke out less than 12 hours later and destroyed a seasonal home on Cobbossee Lake.
Nobody was injured in either of the fires. Both homes are believed to be insured.
Officials in both towns said the rain, coupled with runoff from hoses that froze under foot, made it difficult for crews trying to put out the fires.
“Just responding to the scene alone, we had a slightly slower response time than normal,” said Monmouth Fire Chief Dan Roy.
Readfield firefighters were called to 196 Plains Road Sunday night for a report of a home on fire. Fire Chief Lee Mank said the home was fully involved when the first crews arrived. It took about 90 minutes to control the fire and the last crews remained until 2:30 a.m. Monday. Lenny Reay Excavation provided an excavator to knock down the remaining walls and move the debris to extinguish hot spots, Mank said.
Firefighters from all the Lakes Region Mutual Aid communities, which include Fayette, Manchester, Mount Vernon, Vienna and Wayne, as well as tankers from Belgrade, helped Readfield crews battle the blaze.
“Right in the middle of it the freezing rain started,” Mank said. “Getting everyone back to their towns became kind of an issue. Everyone made it safely, but it took most of them over an hour.”
Mank said the home rests on a private driveway about a half mile off Route 196. Local contractors John Christian and a truck from Steve McGee Construction kept the road sanded.
Three people, including the homeowner, his adult grandson and an adult woman, were home when the fire broke out.
“They started smelling smoke and saw the fire,” Mank said. “They tried to extinguish it.”
All three, as well as a family dog, were able to get out of the house safely, Mank said. They are staying with family in the area.
The fire appears to have started in the area of a first-floor bathroom, Mank said. The cause of the fire is still being investigated. The state fire marshal’s office was called to assist with that investigation.
Mank wouldn’t name the homeowner, but said the building is insured. According to town records, the home is actually at 27 Meadowbrook Lane, which is at the end of a private road adjacent to 196 Plains Road, and is owned by Gaston Rodrigue.
Firefighters responding to the Monmouth fire also contended with treacherous roads. That fire, which broke out around 8:15 a.m. Monday, destroyed a seasonal home at 50 Rocky Point Road.
Nobody was home when the fire broke out.
The two-story home, directly adjacent to Cobbossee Lake, was engulfed in flames by the time it was first reported by neighbors. Firefighters from Greene, Leeds, Wales and Winthrop helped Monmouth crews keep the fire from spreading to a nearby year-round home and shed.
“We basically focused on protecting the exposure buildings,” Roy said. “We were able to save them.”
Roy said roads leading to Rocky Point Road were treacherous because of rain and freezing temperatures. Rocky Point Road, which takes off from Cobbosseecontee Road, was a sheet of unsanded ice. The home itself rested at the end of Rocky Point Road and at the base of a steep hill. Monmouth’s Engine 84, which is equipped with an automatic tire chain system, was the only fire truck to make it down the hill. Firefighters set up two large temporary water pools on Rocky Point Road at the Cobbosseecontee Road intersection. The pools were filled by tankers that shuttled water from the fill point at center station on Main Street. Water was then fed down Rocky Point Road to the engine via 1,600 feet of four-inch supply hose.
A Monmouth sand truck made several trips up and down Rocky Point Road to help crews get to the fire in private vehicles. A neighbor with a pickup truck load of sand tried to keep up with the pouring rain.
“They were laying down sand for us as we were stretching hoses,” Roy said.
It took about an hour to control the fire. The home, owned by Peter Bucci of Pennsylvania, was leveled. Roy had notified Bucci by mid-morning.
Roy said the cause of the fire is under investigation, but it is not considered suspicious. He said the furnace stopped working Sunday and was repaired by a technician. Officials say the furnace may have malfunctioned again.
“That’s something we’re looking at as a potential cause,” Roy said.
Craig Crosby — email@example.com