Maine Fire Marshal’s Office investigates second fire at the home in 18 months

UPDATED South Thomaston house burns to the ground

Posted:  Wednesday, August 23, 2017 - 12:15pm

Story Location:
34 field street
south thomaston  Maine
United States

SOUTH THOMASTON – Aside from some minor details, the Maine Fire Marshal’s investigation of a fire at 34 Field Street in South Thomaston has been closed. That house, which burned a year and a half ago, became the focus of a new investigation after it burned to the ground Thursday, Aug. 17.

According to Sgt. Joel Davis, of the Fire Marshal’s office, the cause of Thursday’s fire will remain indeterminable.

In a phone interview Wednesday, Aug. 23, Davis said that a full investigation was not possible because “the house had been flattened” due the the blaze. However, all indications have led investigators to unofficially believe the cause was “most likely electrical,” he said.

“Nothing jumps out, and there was no insurance attached to the house,” he said.

Around lunchtime Thursday, area mutual aid answered simultaneous calls to 34 Field Street in South Thomaston. Rockland, having arrived first, found the house completely engulfed in flames and quickly falling to ash.

“It was gone,” Rockland Fire Chief Chris Whytock said, about how he initially found the scene.

“I wasn’t concerned about the structure that was on fire,” he said of any possible chances to save it.

“I just wanted to make sure it didn’t extend to the trailer next door, and the woods.”

In January 2016, the same house remained standing after fire burned a gaping hole through the south-facing wall, and resulted in serious injuries to one 20-year-old occupant.

The building, owned by Robert Barter, was never torn down, though a mobile home was brought in and occupied afterward.

Rockland, Thomaston, South Thomaston, Owls Head, and Rockport all arrived on scene, closing Dublin Street to through traffic. Pumper trucks made repeat trips to water sources, which were then pumped through hoses to the house. 

Though that structure burned to the ground rapidly, the initial winds scattered ash, as well as toxins from a propane tank and a furnace.

Because of that wind and residue, several responders were diverted to a small blaze inside the nearby woodline to the east of the house.

“There were some embers that had caught piles of brush on fire,” Whytock said.

According to Whytock, one occupant was on the property at the time. The occupant noticed the fire but was not able to get to an extinguisher in time to put out the fast moving burn.

Following the burn, responders saturated the remains, eliminating hot spots.

By 1:30 p.m. the majority of the mutual aid had repacked their gear and returned to their home stations, leaving a small crew to await an excavator and the fire marshal. Rockland’s fire chief left the scene at 3 p.m., having handed over authority to South Thomaston

At about 4:45 p.m., South Thomaston, Thomaston, Rockland, Owls Head, and St. George responders returned to the property for a flareup of embers in the woodline between two wooden sheds. At least one of two sheds sustained damage. South Thomaston Ambulance and the forestry service also returned to the scene.

According to South Thomaston Fire Chief Bryan Calderwood, his crew performed a quick knockdown to keep the fire from doing more damage. The ground was then saturated with foam.

Calderwood cleared the scene just before 8 p.m.



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