ENFIELD, Maine — Heavy, swirling winds thwarted efforts of firefighters to save a sprawling two-story Lincoln Road home on Thursday.
No one was injured in the blaze, firefighters said.
Lincoln Assistant Fire Chief Gordon Burnham said the house at 652 Lincoln Road was probably already unsalvageable when the first firefighters arrived several minutes after the call came in at 8:10 a.m.
“Our first units rolled up and reported that the entire front half of the structure [was ablaze],” Burnham said Thursday. “I got here about 10 minutes after they did. The flames were coming out over the road. The road was obscured by smoke.
“We had 600 gallons [of water] a minute going out of our main master stream on Engine 2, and it could not even reach the fire. It was so hot, it was all evaporating before it even got to the fire,” Burnham added.
Firefighters from Howland, Lincoln, Lowell, Mattawamkeag and Passadumkeag fought the blaze. East Millinocket firefighters were on standby to cover Lincoln and Medway firefighters standing by to cover Mattawamkeag, a Penobscot Regional Communications Center dispatcher said.
The winds started five fires in woods across the road from the home that firefighters had to contend with while trying to save the house. They also pushed enough smoke around to make visual communication among firefighters nearly impossible, Burnham said.
Besides two 275-gallon tanks of heating oil that had been filled recently, the basement contained a boat with a 75-gallon gas tank, which was among the things burning well into the afternoon. There also was a lot of ammunition on the second floor, Burnham said.
Owner Dan Johnston, whom Burnham described as vice president of Johnston Dandy Co. of Lincoln, was not at home at the time, Lincoln Public Safety Director Dan Summers said.
Johnston could not be reached for comment.
The damage to the building was extensive enough to prevent firefighters from determining where it started. The cause of the fire will be logged as undetermined due to the extent of the damage, said Sgt. Tim York, a state fire marshal’s office supervisor.
Firefighters and police blocked Lincoln Road, which also is known as Route 155, for most of the day as they fought the fire. Water pouring off Johnston’s property made conditions icy, but plow drivers from the Enfield and Lincoln public works departments sanded the road repeatedly to keep it from becoming impassible. It was icy enough so that an ambulance got stuck and needed to be pulled off the ice, firefighters said.