WHITEFIELD — Fire destroyed a barn and then moved to a house Tuesday on Hilton Road within walking distance of the Whitefield Post Office.

The fire at 5 Hilton Road was reported at 4 p.m. The fire reportedly started in the barn, which apparently stored mulch hay, and then reached the house with brightly colored flames tracing the ridgepole of the peaked roof.

Dozens of firetrucks and multiple crews from Lincoln and Kennebec counties responded to fight the blaze, which produced a large plume of gray smoke that could be seen from Randolph. The dairy farm and home are owned by Mark and Pam Fenderson and occupied by them and their children, Olivia and Adam, neighbors said. No injuries were reported. The Fendersons reportedly took shelter at a neighbor’s home across the road.

At 8 p.m., Whitefield Fire Chief Scott Higgins said firefighters would be on the scene for at least several more hours.

“The barn is already down and the house is still standing, but barely,” he said, adding that he expected an excavator would have to be brought in to bring down the remaining structure. Higgins said he was told that the cows and other farm animals were out back and not injured in the fire. Higgins said he was able to speak to one of the owners only briefly.

“It appears to have started in the barn area, but that’s a guess,” Higgins said. He said it was fully involved in flames when firefighters arrived. A state fire marshal’s investigator is expected to be at the scene on Wednesday.

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Police blocked off sections of Route 126 and Hilton Road as tanker trucks from the various volunteer fire companies backed up to fill a temporary pool with water, then rolled away to bring more.

Firefighters aimed a wide stream of water at the structure even as a large plow truck dropped sand on the road to provide traction for the emergency vehicles. Flashing red and blue lights lit the scene, and a Whitefield Fire and Rescue vehicle provided a place for firefighters to get in out of the cold. Early in the evening, it wasn’t getting much use.

This is the second major fire in Whitefield in a week. A fire on Mills Road during a Jan. 27 blizzard left a family of 10 homeless. Many of the same firefighters also fought fires Sunday and Monday in the mutual-aid towns of Somerville and Jefferson.

Kay Ripley, wife of Whitefield firefighter Charlie Ripley, sat in the family’s vehicle in the parking lot of Fielding’s Oil and watched the firefighting efforts.

“We were on our way to the grocery store when the call came in,” she said. So she was waiting for him, and he stopped by occasionally to check in.

Charlie Ripley had gone out around 9:30 p.m. Monday to the Jefferson blaze and gotten home at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday. “He’s had no sleep for two nights,” his wife said.

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The Ripleys run a garage in Whitefield, All-Set Automotive, and she said it was a good thing they were self-employed.

“Between the snow and the plowing and the fires, we have no time to run our business. Most of (the firefighters) work full time during the day, so that makes it hard.”

As Ripley talked, tankers from Chelsea and Waldoboro and fire vehicles from Alna, Farmingdale, Jefferson, Pittston, Washington and Windsor moved in and out, lining up to take their turn. A Delta Ambulance crew was there as well. Some of the firefighters had insulated white hoods under their helmets to try to mute the cold, but their uniform coats looked covered with frost.

A captain from the Pittston Fire Department kept pedestrians out of the way of the firetrucks and away from the fire scene itself.

One neighbor, Ashley Heath, put up pictures of the fire and a message on her Facebook page, Ashley Heath (Auggie), saying anyone who wishes to donate to the fire victims can contact her through that site.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams


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