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PFFM Members ~ Always On The Front Lines
Local 772 supports retired Brother
Sep 16, 2016

The members of Bangor FD Local 772, are shown supporting retired brother - Lt Dave Dow. Dave was diagnosed with Brain cancer in June and continues the fight. He has had surgery, and just finished radiation and his first round of chemo therapy.

To 'celebrate' brother Dow's last radiation treatment, members from the Bangor FD, Brewer Fd, Ellsworth FD and others gathered on the roadway from the Cancer Center in Brewer. He also received a welcome back at his home, from 2  Bangor engine companies. Earlier in the day, members made a donation to get their hair cut like Dave.

A special thanks goes out to the girls at the Hairs Den on Hammond Street in Bangor. They donated their chairs, time and clippers to help this great cause.

From the MC rally
Jun 15, 2016
“I am grateful to share my time and efforts with the firefighters.  You are the best role models for me and others who face dire challenges.  Each day you sacrifice everything to help others.  During the most difficult situations, you show strength, bravery and kindness.  I hope in my lifetime that I can be more like you.
Bath firefighters rescue man, 4-year-old boy from burning building
Feb 23, 2014
BATH — A father and his 4-year-old son were saved from a burning building on South Street in a daring rescue by Bath firefighters Thursday. Bath dad dropped son by his ankles to firefighter and safety Bath Fire Department Capt.
Lewiston Local 785 helps area kids fight the cold with Operation Warm
Nov 27, 2013

Here is some coverage of operation warm.  

Maine Firefighters Honored at Memorial
Sep 20, 2013
Brothers and Sisters,     On Saturday September 21,  the names of 157 brothers and sisters of the IAFF who have died in the line of duty, were placed on the wall of the Fallen Firefighter Memorial in Colorado Springs. The IAFF members being honored this year died in the line of duty between June 1, 2012, and June 1, 2013.
Sen. Collins honors Lewiston firefighters
Aug 09, 2013
LEWISTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The Lewiston Fire Department is receiving recognition at the federal level for its heroic efforts in fighting three massive fires that broke out in downtown Lewiston earlier this spring. Over a seven-day stretch, firefighters battled the flames in three separate fires.  Several buildings were destroyed and hundreds were left homeless.
Lewiston Fires
May 07, 2013
New fire puts Lewiston on alert Police add patrols and city officials secure buildings after the third blaze in eight days in a downtown area.
Navy admiral praises nuke sub firefighting effort
May 24, 2012
KITTERY –– The fire that raged for hours on a nuclear submarine at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Wednesday and this morning is out, and now officials are trying to determine the cause.
PFFM Locals fight Submarine fire
May 24, 2012

Six hurt in fire on nuclear sub in Kittery shipyard 

Posted May 23, 2012, at 7:31 p.m.
Last modified May 24, 2012, at 5:48 a.m. 

KITTERY, Maine — A fire on a nuclear-powered submarine at a Maine shipyard has injured six people, including a firefighter.

Fire crews responded Wednesday to the USS Miami SSN 755 at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on an island in Kittery, a town near Portsmouth, N.H., popular with tourists.

The shipyard says the injured people have been treated and released. The firefighter suffered heat exhaustion.

The fire still was not out shortly before midnight but shipyard spokesman Capt. Bryant Fuller says the situation is improving.

Shipyard public affairs specialist Gary Hildreth says the fire started in the forward compartment of the sub. The shipyard says the sub’s reactor wasn’t operating at the time and was unaffected.

The cause of the fire hasn’t been identified. 

Local 772 members save one of their own
Dec 25, 2010
'Guardian angel' firefighters save one of their own from cardiac arrestBy Nok-Noi RickerBDN StaffBANGOR, Maine — Capt. John Prentiss, a 23-year Bangor Fire Department veteran, says he hangs out with angels.Those angels are the four medically trained firefighters who worked with him on Sunday and brought him back from the dead.
Fire deaths in Maine fall to 14 in 2009
Jan 02, 2010
By The Associated PressPORTLAND, Maine — Maine had low numbers of fire deaths in 2009, while the number of homicides was near average.For the year, there were 14 fire deaths, down from 15 in 2008 and just two more than the record low of 12, in 2007 and 1995.Maine had 40 to 50 fire deaths a year a decade ago
Incident puts focus on carbon monoxide law
Dec 12, 2009
Firefighters say the gas in the Augusta building emanated from a faulty propane furnace ventBy MEGHAN V. MALLOY, Kennebec Journal © Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed
Black Friday and MDA
Nov 27, 2009

Local 772 Hits the Streets for MDA

On Friday November 27th, Local 772 (Bangor) members hit the streets for MDA. Organizers, Chris Kulbe and Ryan Blanchette, set up their second annual event (new to the local) to raise money for MDA.

Members set up near the Bangor Mall and hit a total of 12 lanes of busy streets with boots in hand. Members worked for 5 hours through the cold rain, and passed on holiday cheer to the folks who were out early on Balck Friday. The event was very successful and the funds are still being counted.

PFFM Represented in Buffalo
Aug 29, 2009

PFFM Members attend funerals in Buffalo

The Professional Fire Fighters of Maine were represented by 3 members of our locals at the funerals of Brothers Charles W. McCarthy & Jonathan Croom of Local 282 in Buffalo, New York. Both members were killed on August 24, 2009, while fighting a commercial building fire.

The members were from Portland Local 740 and Bangor Local 772. They flew from Portland to Buffalo for the ceremonies. Estimated attendance was 10,000 brothers and sisters from around the country.

18-unit apartment building in Orono gutted by fire
Jun 10, 2009
 18-unit apartment building in Orono gutted by fireORONO, Maine — A nearly 180-year-old local landmark at the intersection of Main Street and Bennoch Road was destroyed Tuesday in a fire of unknown origin that displaced 23 tenants, many of them University of Maine students.All of the tenants who were home at the time are believed to have escaped safely
Dog Rescued from Maine River Ice
Mar 18, 2009

Dog Rescued from Maine River Ice

Andie Hannon
Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine

Mar. 18--AUBURN -- She may be a golden retriever, but Ginger definitely had St. Patty's luck o' the Irish on her side Tuesday evening when she was rescued by Auburn firefighters after falling through Androscoggin River ice.

"I think maybe she had a bit of spring fever and, being a retriever, she was just drawn to the water," said Ginger's owner, Fred Haskell.

Haskell, an Auburn firefighter himself, said that the 2-year-old family pet escaped from the yard after he and his wife left for separate evening meetings. The dog made its way across the street from the family's home on North River Road and wandered onto the ice.

Initial calls to the Fire Department came in about 6:20 p.m. after witnesses saw the dog fall through the ice. Haskell was at a parent-teacher conference when he received word about Ginger.

"I really believe the dog held on longer because she knew someone was coming after her," said fire Lt. Don Therrien. "I don't think she would have lasted much longer."

Therrien said the dog struggled in open water about 70 feet from the riverbank for 15 minutes to a half-hour. Several firefighters assisted Therrien and firefighter Dave O'Connell, who wore specialized cold water rescue suits to brave the ice and frigid waters and pull the dog to safety.

The two firefighters crawled out onto the broken ice with an water rescue sled they refer to as "the banana boat," while other firefighters formed a human chain holding onto ropes attached to the rescue equipment.

"You've got a good bunch of guys here," Therrien said of the rescue crew. "They know what they're doing and when things click, they click."

Therrien said the firefighters knew right away that Ginger belonged to a fellow firefighter. He said rescuers immediately started calling the dog by name, which helped calm her down, as well as give her the strength to keep dog-paddling.

While the knee-jerk reaction among most people would be to run out on the ice and rescue their pet, Therrien said the best course of action is to call their fire department and leave rescue efforts to trained professionals. Even in Tuesday's case -- the first cold-water river rescue of the year -- firefighter O'Connell fell through ice during the rescue. He was able to get himself and the dog to safety because of his training.

Haskell said that Ginger, meanwhile, was resting comfortably Tuesday night under the blankets of his daughter's bed. His children share nightly custody of their four-legged friend and both his daughter and son were happy to see Ginger home safe and sound.

"I was very glad when I came down the road and saw the firetrucks," Haskell said. "I knew if she was going to be able to get out, they'd get her out."

Lewiston Fire
Mar 09, 2009

Lewiston home burns

Monday, March 9, 2009

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LEWISTON - Gale Hart and her kids spent countless hours and summer vacations rehabilitating the historic three-story, two-family house at 71 Winter St. that they called "home" for more than 30 years. But tragedy struck early Sunday morning as flames tore through the wooden structure, destroying much of the hard work and heart that went into restoring the home to its turn-of-the-century grandeur.

"When I first bought it, it was just a dilapidated old house," Hart said, remembering her early days as a single mother of three. "We bought it and fixed it up from Day 1. Right now, we only have the clothes on our back. There's nothing we can take out of there," she said Sunday evening.

Neighbors noticed the blaze and alerted authorities about 8:45 a.m. The blaze is believed to have started on the first-floor side porch of the building and had already engulfed the side of the building by the time fire crews and police officers arrived.

"As we pulled out of the building here, we could already see a large column of smoke when we turned the corner," said Capt. Larry Morin of the Lewiston Fire Department. "The damage is very, very extensive on the rear part of the building."

Hart lived in the second-floor apartment of the duplex. She said that her adult son is handicapped and lived on the first floor. He was helped out of the structure by a neighbor from across the street who was one of the first people to call 911. Hart was not home when the fire started.

Hart, who serves as director of finance and administration at United Way of Androscoggin County, spent the past three decades restoring the home room by room. She said much of the project was done with her children, all of whom are now grown. Hart said she made the final touches to the house, which is listed on the city's historic registry, last year when she replaced the heating and electrical systems.

"The property was in meticulous condition," Morin said. "It wasn't one of those buildings that was an eyesore to the neighborhood."

The structure was deemed a total loss by the Fire Department. Fire investigator Paul Ouellette said the blaze is believed to have started on the first-floor porch. As of Sunday night, Ouellette said a cause of the fire had not been determined and the blaze remains under investigation. He added that early indications point toward an accidental cause.

Hart said the family lost everything in the blaze, from pictures to clothes to computers. Many of items not destroyed by flames were damaged by smoke and water, she said.

Hart and her son are staying with family and friends as they determine their next move.

"Everything is gone," Hart said. "I just don't know what else to do at this point."

To help: Anyone wishing to help Gale Hart and her family, who lost everything to a Sunday morning blaze that tore through their Winter Street home can call 353-2098.

Way to go - Portland Local #740
Mar 09, 2009

    On Thursday, March 5, 2009, Portland Local 740 members received Senate recognition for their first place finish in the "Race Up Boston Place" competition. The 9-member team was among 600 participants from 25 departments in the fund raiser for the American Lung Association. The team climbed 83 flights of stairs in full gear with a time of 46 minutes and 7 seconds.

     Senator Justin Alfond of Portland sponsored the Legislative Sentiment and spoke on the floor of the Senate about the accomplishment of the team. On hand to receive the proclamation were, from left, Senator Alfond, FF John Hardy, Lt. Mike Nixon, FF Lenny Tracey, and FF James Westburg. Other team members who climbed included FF Ryan Thomson, FF John Brennan, FF Ryan Walsh, Captain Keith Gautreau, and FF Jason Perry of South Portland Local 1476.
     The Professional Fire Fighters of Maine would like to extend their congratulations to the entire team for the great effort towards a worthy cause. Well done brothers.

Lincoln garage fire does $45K in damage
Jan 07, 2009
Lincoln garage fire does $45K in damage

LINCOLN - Firefighters battled icy conditions in an unsuccessful attempt to save a two-car garage on Transalpine Road from the ravages of a fire late Tuesday that did about $45,000 in damage.

Also taking with it a pickup truck and a car parked in the garage, the fire at 316 Transalpine Road appeared to start in or near a wood stove, as one of the homeowners was working on the pickup truck just prior to the fire, Fire Chief Phil Dawson said.

The fire was severe enough to melt the vinyl siding on the side of a nearby home, Dawson said. No one was injured.

“It was about 6 to 8 degrees [Fahrenheit] and very icy out there,” Dawson said Wednesday. “It had all potential of being an injury-producing night but we managed to avoid that.”


One person killed in Augusta fire
Jan 02, 2009


One person killed in Augusta fire

By The Associated Press

AUGUSTA, Maine — One person was killed but nine others escaped with their lives when fire swept through an Augusta apartment building.

Spokesman Stephen McCausland of the Maine Public Safety Department said the fire in the seven-unit downtown building broke out between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. Thursday. McCausland said at least 10 people were occupying the building at the time, and all but one got out alive.

Officials did not immediately have the victim's name and did not know the cause of the fire. The state Fire Marshal's office and city authorities are investigating.

Fire At Lewiston High School
Dec 17, 2008

Fire At Lewiston High School

LEWISTON (NEWS CENTER) -- A fire broke out at Lewiston High School Tuesday night, damaging a section of the building.

It started just after 7 o'clock. When fire crews arrived on the scene, smoke and flames were coming from the vocational wing.

The sprinkler system had been activated, which helped in containing the fire that started in the dust collection system of the woodworking shop.

There was smoke and water damage to adjoining classrooms in that wing, but flames were confined to the vocational section.

There were adult education classes taking place at the time the flames broke out, but everyone was evacuated safely.

Classes will resume as normal on Wednesday.

3 Alarms in Portland
Nov 28, 2008
Fire heavily damages two city buildings   The blaze starts in a restaurant and spreads to nearby apartments, displacing the tenants. By DENNIS HOEY, Staff Writer © Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed
Firefighters refuel after busy Thanksgiving morning
Nov 28, 2008
Firefighters refuel after busy Thanksgiving morning
Bangor firefighter Ron Charette kisses his 9-month-old son, Cooper, while fellow firefighter John Gray watches as they finish Thanksgiving Day dinner at the Central Fire Station on Maine Street in Bangor. Buy Photo

BANGOR, Maine — Last Thanksgiving, firefighters at the Fire Department’s Central Station on Main Street got called out so many times that it was late in the day before they sat down to eat.

But this year, despite responding a flurry of early morning calls, the meal preparations ran smoothly and turkey with all the fixings was served promptly at noon.

That was due in part to the efforts of Jill and Bill Kulbe of Searsport, whose son, Chris Kulbe of Searsmont, is a five-year veteran of the department. The couple arrived at the station in the wee hours of the morning to get the dinner started and kept it on schedule while the firefighters worked.

“It’s fun, and our son is here,” said Jill Kulbe, wiping her hands on her apron. “You go where your family is.”

Chris Kulbe and the rest of the on-duty firefighters had a busy morning. Shortly after 7 a.m., when they reported for their 24-hour shift, they responded to several back-to-back calls. Fortunately, the incidents were relatively minor. But on the return trip to the station, said Lt. Randy Lowe, the firefighters noticed that something didn’t look just right at the Central Street Cafe, a popular eatery that, like most downtown businesses, was closed for the holiday.

“The windows were all black,” Lowe said, and the menus and other papers taped to the inside looked sooty. They pulled the trucks over and found that the window was hot to the touch.

“We knew we had something going on,” he said. When the firefighters broke open the door and entered the smoke-filled cafe, they found a fire burning in the kitchen, near the cooking range. It didn’t take long to extinguish the blaze, Lowe said, but they spent some time clearing the smoke from the building.

It was late morning when they got back to the station, and the turkey, potatoes, squash and other simple staples of the Thanksgiving feast were just about ready.

Several of the 23 on-duty firefighters and officers were joined by their families for the meal. Patrick Heathcote’s wife, Jennifer, brought in the couple’s two young daughters, 4-year-old Kaitlyn and 2-year-old Abigail.

“It doesn’t feel like you’re working when everyone’s here,” Heathcote said.

Jeff Sennett’s three sons — Zach, 21, Kevin, 19 and Max, 9 — came in for “dinner number one.” His wife and daughter, Sennett said, were preparing “dinner number two” at a friend’s home.

“It’s always a good feed, here,” Sennett said.

The cost of the annual Thanksgiving feast at Central Station is paid out of the firefighters’ paychecks, with some families donating treats as well.

Sitting at long tables in the upstairs of the station, the firefighters were still enjoying pie and coffee at 1 p.m. But shortly afterward, their trucks were wailing south on Main Street, off to answer the next call.

Local 772 Working Fire
Nov 28, 2008
Downtown Bangor cafe damaged in holiday fireBy Meg HaskellBDN Staff BY MEG HASKELLOF THE NEWS STAFFBANGOR, Maine — A kitchen fire damaged the Central Street Cafe downtown on Thanksgiving morning.Shortly after 8 a.m
Fire / EMS Job Opportunities
Sep 04, 2008

The PFFM will post jobs for full-time Firefighter / EMS positions that become open.

Please send us the application information and the job description to our web master. Also include the date that the application process closes, so we can keep this page up to date.


South Portland Explosion
Aug 27, 2008


House leveled when gas ignites

It will probably take days before the cause of the explosion in an empty home is determined.

By TREVOR MAXWELL and ANN S. KIM Staff Writers October 2, 2007

SOUTH PORTLAND — Investigators are trying to determine why an unoccupied building apparently filled up with gas before an explosion leveled the house and shook nearby buildings Monday morning in the Knightville neighborhood.

"We have moved from the operational stage to the investigation stage," Robb Couture, a spokesman for the South Portland Fire Department, said Monday night. "We are focused now on determining a cause, how the building filled up with gas, and what the ignition source was." He said the investigation could take days.

Concerned residents, meanwhile, asked why they were not evacuated an hour before the explosion, when workers installing a water main broke a separate gas line under D Street, next door to the house that later exploded.

The blast happened around 9:40 a.m. It destroyed an unoccupied, two-story rental property at 43 D St. and shook houses and office buildings throughout the nearby area. Officials evacuated most of Knightville between A and Market streets, which included dozens of homes and businesses.

Workers spent several hours looking through the rubble before finding and capping the ruptured line around 3:15 p.m. Most residents were allowed to return home by Monday night, except those who live along D Street.

Phil Notis, a member of the trust that owns the destroyed building, said contractors had been preparing the house to be rented.

"It's unbelievable. We were about ready to rent," Notis said. "We're very fortunate that no one was working."

His brother, Alex Notis, said he had no idea what could have ignited the explosion in the unoccupied house, which was built in 1890 and had an assessed value of $102,000, according to city records.

"We're dumbfounded. It was vacant. Everything was shut off," he said.

About a week ago, Risbara Bros. Construction, a contractor hired by the Portland Water District, started work to replace a water main beneath D Street. Neighbors said workers had dug up portions of the street several times in recent years to fix leaks in the pipe.

Around 8:25 a.m. Monday, a worker using a backhoe clipped an underground gas line that ran from the street to a yellow house at 47 D St.

It was not clear if that line had been properly marked, or if the worker simply made a mistake. Sheila Doiron, a spokeswoman for Northern Utilities, said her company marked the street to show the location of pipes before any digging, which is done under the multistate Dig Safe System.

Risbara workers plugged the broken line and notified Northern Utilities and the South Portland Fire Department, which is standard procedure for any gas leak. Employees of Northern Utilities began checking nearby residences for any problems.

Bryan Davis of 55 D St. said a Northern Utilities employee knocked on his door and used a meter to take a gas reading in his basement.

"They said one of the construction workers had nicked the pipe," Davis said. "They had a meter, and they said my house was fine."

Someone from Northern Utilities also contacted Central Maine Power Co. and asked that electricity to that area be turned off. But the gas utility provider called back to say the move was unnecessary, said CMP spokeswoman Gail Rice.

"They told us they needed us, then they told us they didn't. So we held off," Rice said.

Doiron, of Northern Utilities, said workers usually check door- to-door for gas levels whenever there is a leak. She said she did not know whether they were able to check the unoccupied house that exploded.

"That's still under investigation. We're still trying to get the details," she said.

Procedure dictates that three structures on either side of the leak are checked for gas levels, Doiron said. When there's no access to the inside, a plunger bar -- a tool about 5 feet long and a quarter-inch in diameter -- is driven into the ground to get the reading.

The so-called six-point check was in progress when the house blew up, Doiron said.

Because the leak caused by the backhoe was contained, and gas levels were normal at nearby properties, no one was evacuated, and South Portland Fire Engine 8 left the area around 9 a.m., Couture said.

About half an hour later, people in the neighborhood heard and felt what they thought was a bomb.

"The whole building shook, and debris was falling down in our building," said Sarah Rawlings, an employee with Volunteers of America, an organization in the building next door.

Rawlings and her co-workers raced out and saw the wreckage of 43 D St., recognizable only by the black shingles of its roof atop a mound of debris.

The blast tore the fire-escape stairs off the Volunteers of America building, which also has four apartments on the second and third floors. Rawlings said at least one person had been on those stairs earlier in the morning.

After the explosion, Rawlings recalled seeing the fire truck earlier, and hearing men outside talk about a gas leak. On Monday night, she questioned why more was not done to protect public safety.

"They should have evacuated people" when the leak was discovered, Rawlings said. "They let people remain in the adjacent buildings. I think that is irresponsible."

She was not sure whether she and co-workers would be allowed to return to work today, or if they would even want to return.

"Frankly, I don't really feel safe," Rawlings said.

Couture said gas leaks are routine occurrences, and most do not require evacuation. The one known leak Monday morning had been plugged, and it was in the open air, out on the street where the gas could dissipate, Couture said.

Investigators want to know if the explosion was related at all to the backhoe incident, or whether the line to 43 D St. was damaged before Monday morning.

It's possible that the line was broken during road work in the past few days and gas had filled the basement, said South Portland Fire Chief Kevin Guimond. Investigators also still do not know what sparked the explosion.

"We're going to find out," Guimond said. South Portland has been joined in the investigation by the state Fire Marshal's Office, Northern Utilities and the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

Power to the area was cut off by CMP after the explosion. Doiron said she had no indication that the blast had anything to do with electric service.

The PUC will look into two areas: whether safe digging procedures were followed, and whether there was a problem with the piping system. Preliminary reports are not expected to be completed before next week, said Fred Bever, a PUC spokesman.

In April, a house equipped with both propane and natural gas exploded in Portland's West End. Although the explosion was caused by a flammable vapor, it's not yet clear which substance was the cause, said Portland Fire Chief Frederick LaMontagne.

Also in April, a pressure surge in a natural gas line led to leaks, two fires and the overnight evacuation of 300 residents from a Saco neighborhood. The PUC issued a notice of probable violations after concluding that Northern Utilities could have prevented the surge. Settlement talks are under way, Bever said.

Doiron said gas leaks can be caused by a variety of factors, from building renovations to equipment installation to aging infrastructure. She said the kinds of leaks that could result in an explosion are not common, but didn't have any figures on their frequency.

"Problems that result in what happened today are, very fortunately, rare," she said.



Staff Writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at:

Auburn Working Fire
Aug 27, 2008


Flower man saves day

Friday, February 15, 2008

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AUBURN - A flower-delivery man likely saved a house from burning and a dog from dying for the perfect Valentine's Day gift Thursday.

No one was home when Ann's Flower Shop driver Douglas Haines tried to deliver flowers to 33 Lafayette St., according to firefighters. Haines, a former fire captain for the town of Poland, saw smoke coming from the house and dialed 911.

The house is on a dead-end street where the fire may have been missed if not for Haines.

Auburn firefighters arrived and quickly knocked down the blaze and pulled an unconscious dog from inside the home.

Firefighters carried 10-year-old Kasey, a lab mix, from the home, wrapped him in blankets and revived him with oxygen.

In the meantime, other firefighters from the Auburn and Lewiston departments were able to control the blaze and keep it confined to the kitchen and back room, fire officials said.

The fire was started by an electric stove burner that was left on, Fire Prevention Officer Gary Simard said. The house had lost power the night before, he said.

Kasey was later listed in stable condition at Lewiston Veterinary Hospital, a spokeswoman there said.

He was hooked up to fluids intravenously and was put on oxygen and steroid therapy in the intensive care unit. The veterinarians are encouraged by his recovery, the spokeswoman said, noting he'd wagged his tail during a short trip outdoors.

Assistant Auburn fire Chief Mike Minkowsky, one of the firefighters who attended to Kasey, said the dog was limp and had shallow breathing when he and others wrapped him in blankets and cleared his airway.

After about five minutes of getting oxygen, Kasey appeared to regain consciousness, Minkowsky said. He credited quick action by firefighters, who carried Kasey outside and went back inside the smoky house in search of other occupants.

"They really made a difference," Minkowsky said. "It was a great group effort."

The house, owned by Jeffrey and Rena Wilkins, sustained up to $75,000 damage and is uninhabitable but insured, Simard said. The Wilkinses are planning to stay with relatives, he said.

After talking to firefighters, Haines said he brought the flowers back to the shop rather than bothering Mrs. Wilkins. "I figured she had bigger things to worry about than flowers and balloons."

Working fire in Brewer
Aug 27, 2008


Brewer: Sudden door opening alerts couple to fire

By Nok-Noi Ricker

Homeowners Kelly and Antonio Estremera knew there was something wrong when the garage doors at their home on Pinetree Road opened suddenly at 4 a.m. Friday.

It woke them up, and when they looked out a window they saw flames in their garage.

"The fire shorted out the electrical," causing the garage doors to open, Assistant Fire Chief Chris Dore said Friday.

Police officers were the first to arrive at the home, which is off Wiswell Road. They found the garage engulfed in flames.

"When we arrived, the [garage] roof had collapsed and the house was on fire," Dore said.

The garage is not connected to the house, but was close enough that the heat from the fire caused the siding to ignite.

"The garage is a total loss," Dore said. "The outside of the home is heavily damaged, but the inside is in pretty good shape."

The Estremeras were able to escape without injury, and none of the 19 firefighters was injured, Dore said. Crews from Holden, Eddington and Orrington also responded.

Since there are no hydrants on Pinetree Road, tankers were used to fight the flames, Dore said. He said there is a dry hydrant connected to Felts Brook, but it would have taken a lot of hose to reach the two-story house.

Brewer firefighters were back in their station at 7 a.m.

Fire investigator Dennis Pinkham was at the house later Friday trying to determine the cause, Dore said.

Sanford Industrial Fire
Aug 27, 2008


A fire gutted a large industrial building near the Sanford airport. Sanford Firefighters IAFF Local 1624, along with fire fighters from several area departments, battled  this Saturday afternoon blaze, which could be seen for miles. No one was working in the building at the time and there are no reports of injuries. Crews arrived with just 2 firefighters on the first arriving engine. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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Local 740 Arson Fires
Aug 27, 2008

Police arrest a 19-year-old man after 10 cars are set afire on the peninsula.

Veteran firefighters say they never before had responded to fires that were set faster than they could be put out.

By DAVID HENCH and DIETER BRADBURY, Staff Writers April 12, 2008

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer
Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer
A police officer interviews Lucy Weed, the owner of a Honda Civic, seen in the background, that was set on fire early Friday morning in Portland.
Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer
Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer
Firefighters and investigators look over cars at a Portland impound lot Friday. The cars were set on fire early Friday morning on the peninsula.

A 19-year-old man will be in court Monday to face charges related to a destructive wave of car fires that had firefighters and police swarming over the city's peninsula before dawn Friday.

Firefighters scrambled to put out fires even as new ones were igniting on nearby streets, leading police to stop and question anyone who was anywhere near the fires.

That tactic apparently paid off when Sgt. John Nueslein stopped Thomas Cassidy walking at Pleasant and South streets, not far from one of the last fires to spring up.

Witness statements and items Cassidy was carrying tied him to the fire in a car at 68 Pleasant St. that was reported just a few minutes earlier, Police Chief Tim Burton said. Cassidy also was charged with burglary to a car and carrying two concealed weapons.

In addition to 10 car fires called in over two hours, police learned that at least nine cars had been broken into or vandalized along a similar route as the fires.

The car fires ignited three buildings, leading hastily roused residents to evacuate.

"We were very fortunate this morning in that no one was seriously injured or killed," Burton said, praising the swift work of firefighters.

Burton said he could not be sure of Cassidy's motive and that the vehicles he targeted appeared to be random.

Burton said police believe the fires were started with an accelerant, which is usually something like gasoline.Police were intentionally withholding details, including a description of Cassidy, because each of the car fires represents a separate crime and a distinct crime scene and they did not want to taint witnesses' recollections. He acknowledged that Cassidy is a suspect in the other fires.

Anyone with information is urged to call the detectives division at 874-8596.Investigators with the state Fire Marshal's Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms joined Portland's fire investigators to search the burned-out vehicles for clues.Police said they know little about Cassidy, including his home address."As near as we can tell right now, he tended to float," Burton said, noting that Cassidy recently was staying with friends.

Cassidy has no adult criminal record, but was convicted of crimes as a youth; that history is sealed from public view. None of the convictions was for felonies. Cassidy is being held at the Cumberland County Jail on $250,000 cash bail.

The first fire call Friday was the worst.A raging fire inside a Honda Civic ignited a six-unit apartment building two feet away about 4 a.m. The building at 141 Sherman St., near Deering Avenue, was heavily damaged, and residents will not be able to return immediately.

"We could have lost people in that one," Deputy Police Chief William Ridge said. Leah Rogers, who lives on the second floor with her 18-year-old daughter, a friend and his 6-year-old son, heard the Honda's windows popping and saw light flickering in the apartment window.

"Then the car just went 'pow' and it blew up and the flames just came right up the side of the house," she said.Rogers and her friend and his son pounded on doors as they made their way downstairs through a strong sulfur-like smell. Outside, they met a police officer who directed firefighters inside to help Rogers' daughter get out.

Lucy Weed, who owns the Honda and lives next door on the third floor of 139 Sherman St., said the sound of a car horn woke her up in the darkness."I opened my eyes and there was this light outside and I could hear the horn," said Weed, 21. "I looked out the window and saw the fire and called 911." Jake Pike, Weed's roommate, and Weed scooped up her cats and ran outside. On the sidewalk, Pike looked down Sherman Street and saw another car burning in a driveway about a block to the east, at 108 Sherman St. "That's when I knew someone was burning them," he said.

Police brought in a Metro bus to shelter residents from the early morning chill. Nearby, the Salvation Army dispensed blankets and socks for those who fled their homes in bare feet.

Among them was Rich Pickford, who woke to find a sport utility vehicle going up in flames. "I grabbed a couple buckets of water and threw it on, but it didn't do any good," he said. "The fire was hot and fast."

Police also evacuated apartment buildings at 108 and 112 Sherman St., which sustained minor damage from a burning car parked between them. A building at 443 Cumberland Ave. was singed by a burning car, Fire Chief Frederick LaMontagne said.

The series of fires was unlike anything even the city's veteran firefighters had seen.Deputy Fire Chief Michael Shutts was off duty when roused by the third-alarm page. As he pulled up to the scene of one fire, another was reported, and another. "We were at one fire and we would look up and see the next fire They were that close," Shutts said.

He said in 24 years he had never responded to one fire after another, knowing that someone was setting them more quickly than they could be put out.

While Westbrook and Falmouth fire crews covered Portland's fire stations, a South Portland engine was directed to one of the car fires. On its way, it reported passing another fire.Car fires can be put out easily, but when they spread to buildings, people's lives are endangered, said Deputy Chief Lawrence Libby.

Lt. Keith Gautreau was one of four firefighters sent to the roof of 141 Sherman St. to rip open sections that might be hiding smoldering hot spots. From there, as the eastern sky started to lighten toward day, they could see narrow columns of black smoke rising from the city.

"It was kind of a unique experience, being on the roof of a building on fire, looking at other columns of smoke," he said. The thin cylinders of smoke suggested other car fires, and its inky blackness meant a fire crew had yet to arrive, he said."At that point we were saying, 'Is this guy ever going to stop?' " Gautreau said.

The coming of dawn was a welcome sign, Shutts said. "When the sun's up, there's no way he's still going to be out there. The city is alive now, people are on the street. He'll get caught," Shutts said.

The third alarm summoned 10 off-duty firefighters and some off-duty command staff to complement the shift of 47 firefighters.

The car fires came just hours after LaMontagne and Burton held a news conference to discuss the impact of staff cuts in public safety.

LaMontagne said then that the Fire Department's priorities would remain protecting people and property, but that the department would be challenged by simultaneous incidents. He said Friday that the department would be able to respond to the fires much as it had, but said that type of episode would be a challenge for any city regardless of the size of its department.

Karl Ronhave stared at the burned-out husk of his brand new Toyota SUV, which he had owned for just two months.

He recalled waking to what sounded like an air-raid siren and then staring at the weird orange glow coming from the car's passenger compartment."I reached for my phone to call 911 and the engine exploded," he said. Flames climbed 10 feet in the air before firefighters, who already were in the neighborhood and responded within one minute, quickly doused the fire. Ronhave said he wasn't afraid. "I was just angry," he said. "I wish I found him myself," he said of the suspect, "but then I'd probably be in jail."

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

PORTLAND — The man charged with setting fires around Portland's peninsula on Friday will be in court today to face charges that hold him responsible for a wave of a destructive car fires that had firefighters and police swarming over the city's peninsula before dawn Friday.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer
A police officer interviews Lucy Weed, the owner of a Honda Civic,
seen in the background, that was set on fire early Friday morning in Portland.
Thomas Cassidy, 19, spent the weekend in the Cumberland County Jail on 250,000 bail after his Friday arrest.


Firefighters early Friday morning scrambled to put out fires even as new ones were igniting on nearby streets, leading police to stop and question anyone who was anywhere near the fires.

Thomas Cassidy was walking at Pleasant and South streets, not far from one of the last fires to spring up, when Sgt. John Nueslein stopped him.

Witness statements and items Cassidy was carrying tied him to the fire in a car at 68 Pleasant St. that was reported just a few minutes earlier, Police Chief Tim Burton said. Cassidy also was charged with burglary to a car and carrying two concealed weapons.

In all, 10 car fires called were called in over two hours, nine cars were vandalized and the car fires ignited three buildings.


Local 772 - May 2008
Aug 27, 2008


Bangor business, apartments destroyed

By Toni-Lynn Robbins

BANGOR, Maine - Flames shot over the trees Thursday evening as a Hammond Street apartment building and a nearby office building were destroyed by fire.

Tenants of the 1380 Hammond St. four-unit apartment building, many of them barefoot, stood in the middle of the street behind firetrucks and watched in disbelief as their belongings burned. All of the tenants made it out of the building safely, but a dog may have died in the blaze.

James Nason looked on as fire destroyed 64 years of Perry & Morrill Construction Inc. business plans. Nason owns the business and the apartment building with his two brothers, Richard and Don, under the name JDR LLC. The business’s office was located just behind the apartment building, and while almost everything was destroyed, Nason said a lot of equipment remained on job sites in Dexter, Orono, Bucksport and Lincoln.

"This kind of makes you sick inside," Nason said as he watched the wind whip around black plumes of smoke.

Nason said he spotted the fire around 5:45 p.m. as he was leaving the business to have dinner with his daughter’s family. Flames started on the second-floor porch of the apartment building, Nason said. He said that as he called for help tenants broke windows to alert one another of the flames. After the tenants were out safely, Nason said, he re-entered the office to save computers that contain business files.

"I have two cats and the only thing she worried about was getting the cats," Eric Steward, 26, said as he pointed to his girlfriend. Steward said he also tried to help a neighbor rescue a Rottweiler, but he feared the dog died in the blaze.

All four units in the apartment building were occupied, Nason said, noting that he had just fixed up the apartments and installed a new hot water heater. He confirmed the building was insured.

Nason’s father opened Perry & Morrill Construction Inc. in 1964 on Broad Street, he said. The three brothers took over the business, which is now located on Hammond Street just off Route 2.

Traffic on Route 2 was halted for a couple hours Thursday night as Bangor, Brewer and Hermon fire crews worked to extinguish the flames. Motorists were asked to turn their vehicles around and find an alternative route. Fire officials remained at the scene late Thursday.

"This is not going to stop us from doing our work," Nason said at the scene.

Rumford Firefighter Injured
Aug 27, 2008

MEXICO, Maine -- Bill Johnston was lifeless when fellow firefighters dug him from the debris of a collapsed roof and carried him to a waiting ambulance.

The Rumford firefighter was helping to fight an early-morning fire in a three-story apartment building Saturday on Holman Avenue when the roof collapsed.

Johnston was unresponsive and had no pulse when firefighters found him and carried him down three flights of stairs, said Rumford fire Lt. Rob Dixon.

"Med-Care brought him back in their ambulance, with the assistance of former Rumford Hospital physician assistant David Saphier," Dixon said.

Because a medical helicopter was unavailable, Med-Care Ambulance rushed Johnston, estimated to be in his late 40s, to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.

According to a CMMC nursing supervisor, Johnston was in good condition Saturday evening.

Med-Care Director Dean Milligan said he believed Johnston, who suffered back injuries when he was crushed, would be hospitalized overnight for observation.

"Outside of Bill being temporarily dead, things went very well," Dixon said of the fire at 14 Holman Ave., which began sometime between midnight and 1 a.m.

Dixon said he and two other on-duty Rumford firefighters arrived on the scene and saw that the fire had gone through the roof.

"When a fire's in the ceiling, you don't dare put anyone in because, on arrival, when you see fire through the roof, you try to kill it from the outside," Dixon said.

He said he believed Johnston entered the building and the roof collapsed on him. "I don't know how many hundreds or thousands of pounds it was, but it just knocks the daylights out of you."

Johnston was completely covered in debris, but firefighters were able to find him because the collapse activated his life-safety device and it was making noises.

His firefighting partner, Chris Moretto, yelled for help.

"Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! Man down on the third floor!"

Rumford fire Deputy Chief Chris Bryant, Rumford firefighter Ed Carey and Mexico firefighter Allen Chartier stopped what they were doing, donned breathing gear and rushed to help.

"Those guys, Chris, Ed and Allen, they definitely deserve notice. They did a hell of a job," Dixon said.

Fire officials did not know how many occupants were displaced from the three apartments in the building or whether any were injured. State fire investigator Chris Stanford was on scene Saturday due to the workplace injury.

"I don't know why we don't have a dead firefighter after this, but I guess luck was on our side this morning," Milligan said. "It's not very often that a roof collapses and pins someone and they live. People in the River Valley area could very well have been going to a firefighter funeral this week."

Page Last Updated: Dec 24, 2016 (10:50:00)
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