The cause of a brush fire that consumed 2-3 acres at the Long Reach Preserve in Harpswell from July 30 to Aug. 2 remains under investigation and all open burning has been temporarily suspended townwide.

“Having the abnormally dry and drought conditions is certainly a contributing factor, and we’re all trying to deal with climate change,” Harpswell Fire Administrator Art Howe said.

Howe said due to dry conditions, the area will need to be monitored for a few weeks to ensure that the fire does not start up again.

Firefighters arrived on the scene of the fire around 12:30 p.m. July 30, after the blaze was reported by Stephen and Stephanie Rowe of Doughty Point, which overlooks the burned area.

Ben Wallace Jr., chief of Cundy’s Harbor Volunteer Fire Department, summoned all available Harpswell firefighters to the scene, and they remained there until around 7 p.m. and returned the next day along with nearby fire departments.

Operations continued into Monday and The Long Reach Trail was closed off due to unsafe fire conditions.


Wallace said Monday was the most challenging day, as the volunteer Harpswell Fire Department alone controlled the fire, as opposed to Saturday and Sunday when they had help.

Both Wallace and Howe said that the volunteer nature of the department makes it difficult to get enough hands on deck to deal with an emergency as long-lasting as this one.

“Because of the material under the surface, the slope of the land and the dry conditions, we knew it would continue to smolder for a few days after controlling it,” Howe said.

The fire department was able to get boating access from the Harbor Master and Sheriff’s Department as the affected area is best accessed by water.

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