Fire off Whistlestop Trail caused by arson, authorities report

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FARMINGTON – Approximately 45 firefighters from around Franklin County responded to a woods fire that impacted half an acre of forest in a remote location between the Whistle Stop Trail and Wilton Road on Monday evening. The fire has since been determined arson by the Maine Forest Service, Farmington Fire Chief Timothy Hardy reported.

The Farmington Fire Department received the call around 6:30 p.m. on Monday evening, but it took time before they arrived at the scene due to the difficult location. Chief Hardy stated that the challenge was accessing the fire in order to put it out due to a lack of roads or trails in the area. It was impossible to get firetrucks directly to the fire, and Red Schoolhouse Road was blocked off for over two hours to allow firetrucks to reach as close to the scene as possible. Even so, the responding departments had to cut a trail through the trees to the fire.

There was also difficulty with water access. Firefighters used backpack pumps and hand tools to bring water to the remote site. ATVs with water tanks and pumps from the Farmington, Kingfield, and Jay Fire Departments were used to shuttle equipment and water back and forth.
Leaf litter and small trees were burned, although nothing large was reached by the fire, which was completely doused by around 9:30 p.m. when the responders left the site.

The Farmington Fire Department returned to the scene early Tuesday morning and saw that the fire was still out. The Maine Forest Service also returned on Tuesday to conduct investigations into the origins of the fire, which are still on-going. It has been officially determined that the fire was caused by arson.

Mutual aid partners from several surrounding towns were on the scene to assist Farmington, including the Jay Fire Department, Wilton Fire Department, Industry Volunteer Fire and Rescue, Temple Fire Department, New Sharon Fire Department and Kingfield Fire Department, as well as the Maine Forest Service. Mutual aid partners began to leave the scene between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m., as darkness began to set in.

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