Fred Pushard was watching television Saturday shortly before 5 p.m. in his Pushard Lane home when he heard an explosion.

The retired Gardiner firefighter rushed outside to see the back of his garage engulfed in flames.

“The boom shook the whole house. I don’t know what the hell was in there that would explode,” he said.

Pushard, 88, called the Gardiner Fire Department, then backed his car and tractor out of the garage. A police officer stopped him from returning for his rototiller, he said.

Gardiner Fire Chief Al Nelson said the home in southwest Gardiner was fully involved in fire when crews arrived. The home suffered heavy damage and the garage is a total loss, he said. Firefighters were able to get in and save some personal items, such as photos and medications.

Nelson has called the Office of State Fire Marshal to investigate, but he said he doesn’t think the fire’s origin is suspicious. He said Pushard, who lived alone in the house, will be staying with relatives.


Fire crews from Gardiner, Augusta, Togus, West Gardiner, Richmond, Pittston, Farmingdale and Randolph responded to help put the flames out.

Although the fire was within Gardiner’s hydrant district, there was no manpower to shut down U.S. 201 so crews could cross the roadway with hoses. Instead, crews relayed tankers in to provide water for fighting the fire.

Nelson said the fire spread about 50 feet into the woods but was knocked down quickly.

Pushard Lane runs between U.S. Route 201, also called Brunswick Avenue, and Cobbosseecontee Stream near the Libby Hill Business Park.

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