OWLS HEAD, Maine — The owner of an auto repair shop has sued the town, its fire department and the chief, claiming that the chief let the business burn because of a grudge from a car accident nearly two decades earlier.
Fire Chief Frank E. Ross said Tuesday that this was untrue.
“I don’t know where that is coming from. I thought we were friends,” Ross said Tuesday.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Knox County Superior Court by Cecil A. Fogg and his company Cecil A. Fogg Inc. against the town, the volunteer fire department and Ross. Fogg is seeking more than $400,000 in damages for losses and an unspecified amount for punitive damages.
The fire occurred on the afternoon of Feb. 10, 2013, at Frankie’s Garage on Route 73 in Owls Head. The fire began in an oil waste furnace.
Fogg claims that when Ross arrived he was not in his turnout gear and went inside the building without his gear to look at the fire, and then when he left, he left the door open, which allowed the fire to spread faster. The chief also did not have the proper equipment to hook up hoses to the nearest fire hydrant. He also refused to use spray foam or set up a dunk tank to battle the blaze, according to the lawsuit.
Fogg claims in his lawsuit that the chief and he were involved in a car accident in 1996 and that unbeknownst to Fogg, Ross held a grudge over that crash. In the lawsuit, Fogg claims that Ross said to him as the fire destroyed the garage that this was “for the accident.”
The garage has been rebuilt. Fogg said he lost equipment and classic cars and motorcycles.
Fogg had filed a notice of intent to sue the town in August 2013 but did not include any allegations that the fire was not fought properly because of a grudge. That notice only claimed that the department had not responded to the fire properly.
This is the second lawsuit filed in Maine during the past two months against a fire department for its handling of firefighting efforts.
The owners of a Bass Harbor restaurant and attached home that was destroyed in a fire 14 months ago sued in U.S. District Court members of the Tremont and Southwest Harbor fire departments, alleging firefighters were negligent in fighting the blaze.