Islesboro battles woods fire with help from Lincolnville Wednesday night

Posted:  Thursday, May 14, 2015 - 8:30am
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Story Location:
County Road
Islesboro  Maine
United States

ISLESBORO — Approximately 2 acres of grass and woods burned, and a small outbuilding was charred, when a permitted burn likely rekindled in the afternoon's winds on Islesboro Wednesday night.

Islesboro Fire Chief Murton Durkee said that a caretaker's crew had been issued a permit to burn brush at a County Road residence, which included a home and a couple of outbuildings. The small shed that caught fire held firewood.

"The fire spread into that shed, but it wasn't too severely damaged," said Durkee.

Durkee said he believes that the permitted burn rekindled, igniting low grass and then spreading from there. He said a Maine Forest Service ranger was coming over to Islesboro on the 9 a.m. ferry to assist in the investigation and officially determine the cause.

Islesboro Fire Department was called out shortly after 6 p.m. and Durkee said about 16-18 of the island's firefighters showed up with their equipment. A forestry pump was put into a farm pond close to the residence to pump water, but he said he realized he could use more hands on the ground to keep the fire contained so ultimately requested help from Lincolnville and Camden.

Lincolnville Fire Chief Ben Hazen said they were called to assist Islesboro around 7 p.m.

"I had been listening to the radio traffic and heard they had a fire and began thinking they were probably going to need some help, so I headed to the station to prepare," said Hazen. "Then they call came in that they needed 10-12 people from Lincolnville first."

As firefighters from Lincolville were assembling at the beach station, adjacent to the Islesboro ferry terminal, Camden Fire Department was called.

"We ended up having 10 of our guys respond, so I decided to cancel Camden in case there was a call in Lincolnville, so they would be here to cover it," said Hazen.

Boarding the Quick Silver boat with portable water backpacks, the firefighters were delivered across Penobscot Bay to Islesboro. Lincolnville firefighter George Heal had a pickup truck on Islesboro in the parking lot, so they climbed into that and drove toward the fire scene. They were picked up by a school bus and taken the rest of the way, he said.

"They had the fire knocked down pretty good by the time we got there, so we walked the perimeter of the fire and knocked down hot spots," said Hazen.

The crew from Lincolnville cleared the scene and was back on the Quick Silver around 9:45 p.m., and then cleared their station about an hour later.

Durkee said he issued burn permits for a day or two prior to Wednesday's fire, after not issuing any permits for nearly a week while fire conditions around the state were too dangerous due to warm weather, a lack of rain and not enough new growth on the ground, among other things.

"I came in yesterday with plans to not issue any more permits until we get a good soaking rain, and that still holds," said Durkee.

Hazen said he too had issued some permits, but has now stopped doing it until conditions improve and the danger of woods and grass fires subsides.

"There is a lot more green out there, but it's still too dry," said Hazen. "And I'm not issuing any permits today, no."


Reach Editorial Director Holly S. Edwards at hollyedwards@penbaypilot.com and 706-6655.