Jan. 19, 2022 — After an investigation by the Fire Marshal’s Office, the cause of fire at 258 Hope Street has been classified as undetermined.
HOPE (Jan. 16, 2022) — Even before Hope Fire Department left the scene of a large fire Sunday morning, they knew they’d be back. It wasn’t a hunch. It was a reality.
Hope firefighters returned to their station at approximately 5 a.m., Sunday morning, Jan. 16, after spending nearly 6.5 hours battling a stubborn fire at 258 Hope Street. Their hoses were frozen. Their trucks had idled long enough. Their personnel needed a reason to move forward. But behind them, the hotspots remained.
That’s why Hope Fire Chief Clarence Keller called a time-out – though anyone out of the loop, but still believing to be “in-the-know” might have thought the request for personnel to return less than two hours later was due to missed flames and new flare ups. It was not.
“I knew that when we left, we’d be going back to quell the last remaining hotspots.” said Keller.
“It’s just, we needed to get stuff back ‘in the barn,’ and get it thawed, and get the hose cleaned up.”
The intermission was also an opportunity to let the smoke, fog, and steam clear from the fire scene in order to better see the locations of those hot spots.
“It was so smoky, we just had to give it a break for a minute,” said Keller.
A day later, the majority of the house is still standing despite the inability of firefighters to access its interior during the fire. The flames held strong within the house’s upper level and attic space due to its enclosure under metal roof. Metal roofs, said Keller, keep the heat in.
Two people were inside the adjacent house when reports of fire initiated a response by HFD, mutual aid, and NorthEast Mobile Health, Saturday night, between 10 and 10:15 p.m. The occupants reportedly told the first firefighter to arrive that everyone was accounted for, according to Keller. However, with many questions and few answers at this point, Keller still doesn’t know how many people actually lived in the house. There was also mention of some chickens in the patched barn; whether the chickens were saved is another unknown.
No one was injured.
Keller has been in contact with the Fire Marshal’s Office. If there is an investigation, it will likely be a small one for two reasons. First, Keller hasn’t seen anything suspicious, according to him. Second, an excavator has already moved the barn’s few remaining pieces.
“Give the fact of what’s not left, it’s probably going to be pretty difficult to find a cause,” he said. “But sometimes we can determine things by what’s not there, asking questions, and getting the answers.”
Flames, frigid temperatures battle with firefighters on Hope Street
HOPE (Jan. 16, 2022) — A steady stream of hose water remained focused on one side of a house at 258 Hope Street long after the adjacent barn and lean-to burned to the ground. Every minute or so, huge white clouds blew through, blocking the firefighters’ visibility, despite at least one of the hoses remaining trained on the one spot. When the clouds parted, the orange glow teased its unfaltering existence in that second-story window. It – unlike everything else that night – refused to freeze.
Hope, Union, Lincolnville, Appleton, Warren, and Rockport firefighters spent hours on Hope Street following multiple reports of a fully engulfed barn fire just after 10 p.m., Saturday night. Temperatures hovered around 2 degrees Fahrenheit, turning ground water into skating rinks, branches into icicles, and forcing firefighters to carry extra weight from the frozen droplets that formed on their uniforms.
Responders activated two water supply stations in their fight to save the house, but time was not on their side. The barn was fully involved before anyone arrived, the direction of the wind toward the living quarters and the limited water supply kept firefighters from entering the house. Metal roofing also added to the problems.
After three hours of fighting, with steady flames refusing to desist, arrangements were being made for an excavator to come for the barn – to push down the debris, to smother the remnants.
Occupants of the house were home when the fire started. They were able to evacuate on their own.
The house has been rendered uninhabitable.
Although the fire is believed to have started in either the barn or the lean-to, investigation into the cause wont begin until after the fire is extinguished.
The mutual aid units that were last to leave Hope Street did so at approximately 4:15 a.m.
Reach Sarah Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org