I would like point out how much small towns in Maine absolutely rely on the Maine Forest Service.

On July 2 at 11:30 p.m., an emergency call came in about a logging equipment fire 7 miles into the northern Maine woods.

My dispatcher was telling me that the satellite phone from the scene was cutting out and we had very little information on the location of the fire emergency. Dispatch was trying to get me GPS coordinates to locate the fire.

Allagash is a town of about 230 residents in northwestern Maine. Allagash is also the largest town by land area in the state. My department is responsible for 80,000 acres of mostly forested land, including hundreds of miles of logging roads.

With a very small department budget, we do not have a suppression vehicle to respond to fires that far into the woods. We have no GPS location capabilities and less-than-adequate radio communications.

I immediately had the Forest Service dispatched for response. Even with the state government shut down, thankfully District Ranger Lance Martin and Ranger Arnold Martin swiftly came to our aid.

Using their GPS and communications network, we were able to locate the equipment fire on Johnson Brook Road. A Forest Service woodland firetruck was sent to the location. There we found a $480,000 piece of logging equipment significantly damaged by fire.

The response team of two forest rangers and two Allagash firefighters were able to put down the fire with a combination of water and foam, potentially saving many acres of prime forested land that provide many valuable jobs to the area.

There were no injuries in this incident. Allagash residents and the Allagash Fire Department would like to thank the Forest Service for all their hard work and a job well done.

Mike Cushing

Allagash fire chief