Seven departments respond to farmhouse fire

3 mins read

EAST DIXFIELD – A local couple was forced to flee their home Sunday morning, after their farmhouse of more than 100 years old, caught on fire.

Firefighters from seven towns responded to a mutual aid call Sunday at 7:54 a.m., sending 13 trucks to 931 Route 2 after David Swett, who was home with his wife Roxanne Swett at the time, reported that his home was on fire.

East Dixfield Fire Chief Randy Hall said that the building was fully involved when his crew arrived at the scene almost immediately after the call went out.

“We had flames visible out the front door and first floor windows when we arrived,” Hall said.

An electrical problem is believed to have started a fire in this farmhouse on Rt. 2.

He cited several challenges with this fire, including a distant water supply 2.5 miles away in North Jay, a metal roof on top of the one-and-a-half story farmhouse which trapped heat inside the building, and deep snow around the rear of the structure.

Most troubling for the fire crews however, was a live electrical wire which wrapped around the house, just below the eaves, before running down an external wall to reach the meter. That wire was arcing, which made it impossible for firefighter to gain access until Central Maine Power technicians arrived to cut the power roughly 45 minutes later.

Hall said he learned from Swett almost immediately after East Dixfield’s 13-member crew arrived that no other people or pets were in the home. Firefighters focused on keeping the blaze from spreading to nearby trees and Swett’s car, the keys for which were somewhere inside the house.

In addition to East Dixfield, Wilton, Dixfield, Jay, Livermore Falls, Chesterville and Temple all sent personnel and equipment. Many of these trucks were pumpers, which began ferrying water over from North Jay. Hall said despite the distances involved, the crews at the scene never ran out of water.

Fire inspectors have visited the scene, according to Hall, and currently are suspecting that the cause of the fire was electrical in nature. Swett had apparently been having problems with house’s electrical system in the past.

Hall said that Red Cross had contacted the Swetts, who are now staying with relatives. The farmhouse, which was not insured, is believed to be a total loss.

Hall praised the work of all the involved departments, noting that the mutual aid training they undergo greatly assisted their efforts in the difficult fire.

“Things went smooth,” Hall said. “We had mutual aid from several towns and everyone worked well together, I commend them for that. No one was hurt and tempers stayed cool. The training we do with each other really helps.”

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