From a Retired Firefighter

In view of the terrible tragedy of fire in California, I wondered aloud to a retired firefighter in Maine how this could take so many lives in this day and age of drones, cellphones and communications. Here’s what he said.

“People unfortunately do not listen to warnings issued to protect them. The warnings also might have come too late. Cousin Linda told us her sister lived up a road that had one way in and out and the fire in the spring came very close. It was four miles to the end of the road.

“I have seen fire on the blueberry plains. The wind was blowing and the fire trucks could not catch up with the head of the fire. It was spotting as the embers blew ahead of the fire. Sanford fire lost a truck in that fire. One time near the Libby estate we were in the woods with almost a half of mile of hose and the wind changed and the fire came back at us. The crew gathered and were able to break through the fire into a burned over area. I have seen a fully grown pine tree explode into a ball of fire.

“With the wind blowing 70 to 80 miles an hour, there is no stopping any woods fire. The death total will be growing.

“When I think of all the homes that have been built in the last 25 years, I picture the same thing happening here in Maine. We have not had a drought like the 1947 one. When I started in 1971 that was a dry summer and fall. The [railroad] train started, on the day I was on, 12 fires between N. Berwick and Kennebunk. Some got into the woods. It almost burned down Arthur Page’s big barn. The tracks are right there. When I arrived it was in the grass next to the barn. Maine, New England and the northeast have been lucky.”


8:16 am on November 16, 2018