ISLESBORO — Thanks to firefighters from three area fire departments who answered a call to board the Margaret Chase Smith ferry and the vessel Quicksilver on Sept. 15, a house on Islesboro remains standing.
For approximately five hours, starting at 4:12 p.m. – two hours prior to Islesboro Volunteer Fire Department’s regular drill night – Islesboro Fire Chief Murton Durkee and his roster of seven personnel battled flames at 466 Ferry Road.
Limited to eight firefighters and four fire engines, Durkee called for the assistance of Camden (six crew members), Lincolnville (seven), and Northport (four) to bring manpower in the form of those licensed in Self Contained Breathing Apparatus.
"I got plenty of people from all three towns," he said. "I didn't think I was going to get that many."
Those firefighters quickly gathered their gear and boarded the 5 p.m. ferry from Lincolnville Beach, arriving on the island at 5:30 p.m. They were met by one of Islesboro’s retired firefighters, who drove a school bus to the wharf to transport the relief.
Others boarded the Quicksilver, owned by Pendleton Boat Yard and which joined the transport effort, to get over to the island.
Located approximately one quarter mile from the ferry, the upper middle section of a two-story house was taking the brunt of the fire damage along with the roof, which is almost demolished, according to Durkee. However, both first-floor ends of the seasonally-occupied home remain in good shape.
Tuesday, Sept. 16, Durkee and an investigator from the Maine Fire Marshal’s Office determined that the fire originated in an outside, propane-fed camp stove on a first floor deck. The stove was being operated on top of a wooden table-like structure, close to the siding of the house.
“Through operational error, it started a fire, crawled up the wall and got into the attic space,” Chief Durkee said.
A smoke alarm alerted the occupant and his dog, and they were able to safely evacuate.
Because the driveway was “a little squirrely,” according to Durkee, tanker trucks had to be backed in to the scene, though the water inside was easily obtained from a pond and a dry hydrant approximately a quarter mile away.
The Islesboro ambulance crew stood by to assist with any overheated firefighters, and to act as traffic control. There were no injuries.
Islesboro has mutual aid agreements with both Knox and Waldo counties. Lincolnville is usually the first to be called, but that doesn’t happen often, according to Durkee. Camden is called for added help, and, starting two years ago, Northport was added to the list.
In fact, this is the first time in Northport Fire Chief Paul Rooney’s 22 years with the department that he’s been called to the island, Chief Rooney said.
“Islesboro Fire Department is appreciative of the mutual aid companies from those three towns to come over and lend a hand,” said Durkee. “It was gratefully received. It meant a lot.”
A few hours later, a fresh ferry crew took the mutual aid crews back across the bay. Islesboro crews were back at the station at 9:30 p.m., and back in service at 10 p.m.
Of the house, and the overall experience, Durkee said, “It was a good save.”