Fire crews battled sporadic brush fires across southern Maine on Saturday as winds and low humidity combined to create a high fire risk.

But forecasters said Saturday’s red flag day might be spring’s last, with more-humid air moving into the state and green vegetation overtaking dried leaves on the ground.

“It should be the last of the spring,” said Eric Sinsabaugh, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray.

The red flag warning was dropped at 8 p.m. Saturday, with gusty winds dying down and a mass of more-humid air reaching northern New England as winds turn to the southwest. Sinsabaugh said temperatures will climb this week, but so will humidity and a chance of afternoon showers and thunderstorms.

The last gasp of dry wind came on a day when conditions varied widely across the state. Northern Maine largely escaped the fire danger because snow fell, with the Aroostook County town of Portage Lake recording 5 inches of snow on a weekend considered the unofficial kickoff of summer. Ashland had 2 inches, and an inch fell in Presque Isle.

Mark Bloomer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Caribou, said the moisture was enough to keep the fire danger low where snow fell, and cooler temperatures largely kept a lid on the fire danger elsewhere. The weather service posted a red flag warning for the northern part of the state, Bloomer said, but took it down late Saturday afternoon.

Strong winds contributed to structure fires Saturday, including one that destroyed a large chicken barn in Pittston.

Fire Chief Jason Farris said nobody was hurt in the fire, but the barn at 5 Fly Way, a driveway off South Beech Hill Road, was leveled. The fire spread to the woods and burned about an acre before firefighters extinguished it, but firefighters were able to keep the flames from spreading to nearby homes.

“They were able to stop it just as it was going into the woods,” Farris said.

An investigator from the State Fire Marshal’s office was at the scene Saturday afternoon.

The fire was reported around 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Firefighters arrived within two minutes, but flames already were coming through the roof of the barn, which Farris said was about 200 feet long, 50 feet wide and three stories tall.

The barn, which is privately owned and had collapsed partially before the fire, stood near a farmhouse on the same property with a field and a large pine forest behind it.

The property owner said the building was used to store old vehicles and boats, according to WCSH-TV.

A fire in Lyman on Saturday afternoon spread from a shed to an adjacent house and into the woods.

Goodwins Mills Fire Chief Roger Hooper said the fire started in the shed at 53 Alewive Road shortly after 3 p.m.

No one was home at the time, Hooper said, and by the time it was reported, flames had spread to the house and were heading into nearby woods.

The grass fire was extinguished quickly, Hooper said, but the kitchen, living room and part of the attic of the house was destroyed and the rest of the three-bedroom home suffered smoke and heat damage. He said the insurance company would likely declare the house a total loss.

Hooper said the cause of the fire is unclear and he has asked the State Fire Marshal’s Office to help determine how it started.

No one was injured.

A brush fire in Mechanic Falls threatened to spread to a building before firefighters put it out Saturday morning. That fire caused minor damage, an Androscoggin County dispatcher said, and another brush fire was reported in Gray.


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