ST. GEORGE — An active fire scene that began just after 10:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2023, kept right on going into the next afternoon, with many more hours still ahead for the home team of St. George FD, who are hoping to not see another sun rise during this fire scene.
All the while, Monhegan Boat Line, which has another office up the road, only needed to cancel it’s earliest morning cruise before returning to a fully-functioning enterprise – albeit, with some modifications in place. Instead of waiting on the dock, as usual, passengers waited in the lower parking lot, behind the caution scene tape, while boat workers transported goods back in forth via small forklifts. When the boat was ready, and no fire trucks were in motion in that area, the passengers pulled their luggage to the end of the dock.
At 2:30 p.m., some of the drained and bleary-eyed firefighters from Warren, Owls Head, and Cushing continued the work needed to bring water to three now-destroyed commercial buildings at Factory Road and Cold Storage Road, in the St. George village of Port Clyde, just as they had started at the fire’s onset the night before. Others from the same crews continued to work on exposing and dousing hotspots under the Port Clyde General Store. That building, along with the adjacent Dip Net restaurant and the Monhegan Boat Line building, were almost completely destroyed in the fire, which started in the Dip Net, according to St. George Fire Chief Michael Smith. Yet, one tiny remnant of the Dip Net building – owned by Linda Bean – stayed strangely intact: the door and window to an art gallery. The glass door announced the Wyeth paintings within; the window displayed a painting – unscathed by the ruins surrounding it.
During the night, after the fire trucks had arrived and crews had received their assignments, the scene settled into quiet. Three structures on fire, and yet, only the quiet simmer of flames and hose water.
The words didn’t need to be uttered loudly. Everyone on scene felt the devastation. And so, too, did the neighbors that night, and eventually, the public – driving multiple television broadcast networks to the day-after scene that wasn’t actually a day after, but a continuation.
The news also brought food donations. South Thomaston’s fire department auxilliary, The Tenants Harbor General Store – also owned by Linda Bean – brought edibles, Chris Chadwick at the Harpoon Restaurant brought coffee, and even random members of the public came with pizzas. As they worked, the firefighters chomped and chewed, as did 5 investigators from the Fire Marshall’s Office. It is believed that some insurance adjusters also arrived.
It is known that the fire started at the Dip Net, which was fully involved when firefighters first arrived on scene, then spread in one direction to the Monhegan Boat Line via a small building that burned down completely near the beginning of the night. The Dip Net flames then spread in the other direction, catching hold of the upper level of the store.
Two firefighter teams were sent inside the Dip Net during the duration of the major fire, but both teams came back out very quickly, according to Smith.
Rockland, Rockport and Friendship firefighters returned to their home base around 7 a.m., and the Hope tanker truck wasn’t far behind. In the mix, Waldoboro FD joined the extinguishing efforts, leaving for home at approximately 3 p.m., which was when Warren and Cushing called it a day – and a night. Owls Head went home at 5 p.m.
No injuries reported, and all people were out of the building before Fds arrived.
In all, ten towns joined St. George: Thomaston, South Thomaston, Owls Head, Rockland, Rockport, Cushing, Waldoboro, Warren, Hope, and Friendship.
Because of the scope of the scene, the cause of fire could take days to determine, according to a Maine State Police update.
See our initial reporting on this fire: https://www.penbaypilot.com/article/three-port-clyde-buildings-burn-one-fire-scene/178950