Chimney fire embers on roof sends Camden firefighters twice to Norumbega Inn

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 2:45pm

CAMDEN — Firefighters in Camden were called twice to the Norumbega Inn on High Street (Route 1 north) in Camden to extinguish a chimney fire that sent embers on the cedar-shingled roof.

The Norumbega Inn, with its turrets and architectural flourishes, was built in 1886 as a large and lavish summer cottage, and has since been converted to commercial lodging. In 1974, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Although its rooms were built with fireplaces, they have since been outfitted with propane gas fixtures, except for the large, welcoming fireplace that sits in the main foyer of the building.

On Jan. 17, a chimney fire took hold somewhere in the lengthy chimney that runs from the ground floor up to the fourth floor of the castle-like cottage.

Camden Fire Department responded to the first call at 5:43 p.m., with 11 firefighters and two engines, including the ladder truck.

Firefighters tackled the fire with water hoses from the ground, while some ascended the ladder to the fourth floor where they were able to work on the chimney.

They found that some fire debris had fallen into one of the valleys of the roof near the peak, and was burning a fist-size hole into the sheathing. They extinguished that and took care of the chimney fire, clearing the scene by 7 p.m.

But one hour later, another small roof fire became evident, this time on a lower roof near the inn’s deck.

“It took a while to dig that one out,” said Camden Fire Chief Chris Farley. 

The fire had crept into the sheathing and framing between the masonry walls, he said.

Firefighters worked “surgically to prevent damage,” given the building’s historic construction.

Farley said the chimney fire was possibly attributed to creosote accumulation in the chimney, which, after analyzing with a thermal imaging camera, was apparently built with several offsets, meaning it is not a straight shot to the roof, and has pockets where creosote could build.

Farley said the owner reported consistent and constant chimney cleanings.

By 11 p.m., firefighters had finished the work and returned to the fire station.


Reach Editorial Director Lynda Clancy at lyndaclancy@penbaypilot.com; 207-706-6657