UPDATE: Two possible causes of Rockland house fire

Posted:  Thursday, July 5, 2018 - 3:30pm

ROCKLAND – The State Fire Marshal’s Office has narrowed down the cause of fire at 120 North Main Street to two potential triggers. As such, the official cause has been left undetermined.

While considering the possibility that smoking materials initiated fire in a rear bedroom, a State investigator also attributed electrical problems as an alternative cause, according to Sgt. Joel Davis of the Fire Marshal’s Office.

Homeowner Peter Hart and his adult son were both awake when the fire started shortly after midnight, July 5, according to Rockland Fire Chief Chris Whytock. In their haste to evacuate, both men forgot their cell phones.

Hart proceeded to go door-to-door of the quiet neighborhood until he found someone to call 9-1-1. His son waited outside the home in anticipation that the family dog would find its way out of the structure. The dog’s remains have not been found.

As firefighters worked to extinguish the flames, they had to contend, initially, with a live wire that hung unsecure when the electricity access point to the home burned. A Central Maine Power service technician was called to cut the power.

Responders also contended with small fires burning outside the house, and vinyl siding which popped and sparked.

Though no injuries occurred before or during the fire, a couple of responders reported blisters on their skin the following day.



ROCKLAND – Investigators from the State Fire Marshal’s Office and Rockland firefighters are working to determine the cause of a house fire that occurred in Rockland, July 5.

Despite the help of an estimated 30 firefighters from Rockland, Camden, Rockport, Thomaston, and South Thomaston, several factors delayed efforts to extinguish flames inside the two-story house at 120 North Main Street that left the owner, Peter Hart, homeless. A pet may also have perished in the blaze.

“The fire upon arrival was of significant size and we needed all the manpower we could get,” Rockland Fire Chief Chris Whytock said in his report.

Around 12:20 a.m., Whytock, as first on scene, arrived to find heavy fire showing from both the first and second floors, according to the report. Simultaneously, flames could be seen impinging on a propane tank located near the structure.

Shortly after the arrival of the shift on duty (A-Shift), the power service entrance to the two-story structure burned off, leaving a live wire dangling.

This hazard became the first of a list of reasons why firefighters were initially ordered not to enter certain areas of the structure, instead focusing on what they could reach from the exterior.

“The fire had significant headway before the call was even made to 9-1-1 and for that reason there was heavy damage to structural members within the home,” according to the report.

However, even when particular rooms were deemed safe enough to enter, obstacles still remained.

“A large amount of time and energy was put into gaining entry to extinguish various rooms that had heavy fire involvement, according to the report. “Personal belongings filled every pathway, hallway, stairway, and blocked multiple means of entry/egress into the structure, including most of the windows.”

Personnel remained on scene until 5 a.m.

Apparatus Assigned:
Rockland Tower 3

Rockport FD
Rockland Squad 3

Thomaston FD
Rockland Engine 1

Camden Ladder 1 for RIT
Rockland Engine 2

South Thomaston FD
Rockland Rescue 1 and 2

Rockland Car 1
North East Mobile Health

Warren FD for station coverage

As is true with any fire, a quick response saves lives and property. A staffed fire department is able to respond quicker and mitigate the hazards sooner, preventing further fire spread and damage from occurring. Our mutual aid partners were also quick to respond and we thank them for their help.


ROCKLAND – An hour and a half after flames blackened a white house on North Main Street in Rockland, firefighters continued to unearth minor hot spots in an upstairs room.

Upon arrival to the two-story structure at 120 North Main Street,  about 15 minutes after midnight, Thursday, July 5, Rockland firefighters encountered heavy fire coming from the first floor. The building was evacuated, and dispatchers initiated mutual aid requests to Camden, Rockport, Thomaston, South Thomaston, and North East Mobile Health.

Two passers-by said they witnessed the initial flames followed by an explosion.

The smothering of flames was slowed by household objects hindering access around the front door as well as in front of the upstairs windows, prompting responders to use alternative methods for assessing the situation.


This article will be updated as information becomes available.

Reach Sarah Thompson at news@penbaypilot.com